It was supposed to be a busy March and April for the Ministry of Education Sports Unit, but COVID-19 had other plans. It’s almost the end of the school year and the unit is now making plans for the next school year.
This is the first year in recent history that there were no high school sporting championships.
On the first day of the National High School Track and Field Championships, organizers decided to shut down that highly anticipated event because of the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, the new coronavirus that reached these shores in mid-March.
At the beginning of the school year, there was Hurricane Dorian that put the country in a major setback, financially and otherwise.
Senior Sports Officer in the unit Rupert Gardiner said that they are looking forward to working more with the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture next year. The unit oversees sports at the public high school level in the country and is charged with staging local high school national championships in the various sporting disciplines.
“Right now, we need to hold meetings – both ministries. We need to have meetings so we can iron out our kinks on moving forward and how it can work. We need to determine what we can do in terms of getting sports up and running at the high school level,” Gardiner said. “If both ministries can work together, then things will be fine and it would not be going on in just one ministry. Both ministries can come together and fit the bill for all the national programs, then you can see a better quality nationals.”
Gardiner said they are looking at getting those meetings underway next week. He said they are looking forward to working with the sporting federations in staging improved national high school sporting championships next year.
Hosting and organizing those championships come with a hefty price tag. A key way to offset those price tags and to have more community involvement is to bring sponsors on board, said Gardiner.
“I don’t think it will be hard to get sponsors on board,” Gardiner said. “Once we have a sustainable plan and we sit down with the sponsors and tell them that this is our plan moving forward for the youth and betterment of the country, they will come on board. The government cannot do everything. We will have to go into the communities and look for sponsors.”
The Government Secondary Schools Sports Association (GSSSA) was about to get its soccer season started and thereafter, the softball and baseball season, when the pandemic hit. Those seasons, along with the national high school basketball and soccer championships, were canceled. Gardiner said that there wasn’t anything that they could have done as the pandemic is something no one could control.
“It was very disappointing that we did not get to finish off the year and have those championships. This is where a lot of athletes get their scholarships – when we have the best-of-the-best at these championships. We have coaches who come down to look at them and that means that a lot of kids were disenfranchised in getting off to school on athletic scholarships.”
Hopefully, the pandemic has reached its peak in The Bahamas as the country enters stage four of the reopening of the economy plan, and hopefully student-athletes can have an uninterrupted 2020-2021 season as they look to have bragging rights for their respective schools at the various national high school sporting championships.
Jump Line – Hosting and organizing high school nationals come with a hefty price tag