After a three-year hiatus, the Ministry of Education and Technical and Vocational Training Sports Unit has brought back the National High School Championship Series for the 2022-2023 school year under the theme “Sports Is Back”, starting with the volleyball championships in November in Grand Bahama.
According to the unit’s senior officer, Evon Wisdom, they have added two new disciplines – swimming and tennis. The other sports are cross country, basketball, track and field, golf, soccer, primary school track and field, baseball and softball. Wisdom said that it was imperative that the minster, Glenys Hanna-Martin, gets sports back.
“Educational time was lost, significant contact time with our students was lost, and a lot of our students suffered academically because of that lost time on task and actual physical contact with teachers. Minister Hanna-Martin feels that a significant number of children were hurt recreationally during the pandemic and feels that scholarships may have even been lost because of the non-activity,” Wisdom said.
He added, “She is trying her best to ensure and that sports is back, so that our coaches are able to get contact time with these children and for activity to positively take place. The children to a greater extent would be able to receive academic advantage through athletic scholarships.”
Volleyball, basketball and soccer are set to be held in Grand Bahama, as they want to give the student-athletes from the other islands the opportunity to travel, and the ones who are outside of New Providence the opportunity to travel to the capital.
Volleyball is set for November 16-18. Cross country is right after volleyball on November 24. There is no action in January and February in terms of national championship action. However, March will see basketball, track and field, and the golf championship being played. Basketball is planned for March 2-6, track and field is right after on March 9-11 and golf will be played March 17-21. Soccer is the only event set for April, with a tentative date of April 26-30, to take place between Grand Bahama and New Providence.
May will be the busiest month with five national championships – tennis, primary school track and field, swimming, baseball and softball. Tennis is up first on May 3-6. That will be followed with primary school track and field, slated for May 10-12. May 18-21 will be busy as swimming, baseball and softball will all happen on those dates.
Although face-to-face learning has resumed, Wisdom said the ministry is still operating in a COVID-19 environment and as such wants to ensure that the student-athletes are safe. They are looking to implement certain measures.
“We expect the school associations to operate under the protocols,” Wisdom said. “We want to see monitoring from home to school and then for after-school activity, that monitoring will include checking a child’s temperature. Should the parents in their home environment feel that their child may have been exposed to COVID, they should ensure they are tested and if positive, quarantine for 14 days.”
“In the game environment we would like for two things to be always available – a sanitation station where children are able to sanitize, and officials must be in possession of a temperature gun, so that before the game starts, they’re able to check the temperatures of the participants. We’re also asking, as best as possible, that there be social distancing as best as possible.”
Wisdom is hoping that in the team sports they can get schools from New Providence, Grand Bahama, Bimini, Abaco and Eleuthera. All the associations do not play the various sports at the same time, but Wisdom said that he is hoping that they can have it happen in the future.