There is still no end in sight after weeks of uncertainty as to when the various international sports governing bodies and by extension the national sports associations in Saint Lucia will resume their normal sporting activities on the pitch.
Over the past few weeks sports enthusiasts have seen numerous postponements/ cancellations of sporting activities due to the Covid-19 virus which has infected over 2,206,348 and taken the lives of more than 148,649 individuals worldwide.
In terms of cancellations, two events Saint Lucian sportsmen and sportswomen and sports enthusiasts are familiar with namely, the Carifta
track and field championship (which was scheduled over the Easter weekend in Bermuda) and the Olympic Games which was set for Tokyo, Japan in July – August, will now take place in 2021.
The VOICE spoke to the Saint Lucia Football Association (SLFA) President Lyndon Cooper to find out how soon he expected the friendly rivalry in Divisions 1 and 2 football tournaments to resume, and how much the Coronavirus has affected the SLFA programme for 2020.
“In terms of the Divisions 1 and 2 football tournaments which commenced in February, the SLFA has no idea whatsoever when these tournaments will resume,” he noted. “We continue to monitor the situation.”
Programme wise: Cooper said, “Covid-19 has affected 45 percent of our programme. The senior female tournament was scheduled to kick off in March; the Under 11 and Under 13 boys were slated for April; the national Under 17 boys tournament in May; the Technical and Administrative Workshops in May and June and also the D and C License coaching courses; it cannot get worse than that. At present we are keeping our fingers crossed and hoping for the best.”
He added, “We continue to follow/ adhere to the various protocols and practices by the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) in keeping with the need to observe social distancing to combat the spread of Covid-19. The SLFA reminds its affiliates and supporters of the lovely game (football) to wear protective face masks at all times.”
The VOICE also spoke to the President of the Saint Lucia Athletic Association (SLAA) Cornelius Breen.“In terms of the Carifta Games, it will remain with Bermuda come 2021, with Guyana hosting the 50th edition in 2022,” he said, adding: “As for the local programming, we can’t say when we will be heading back to the tracks. We will wait when the all clear is given, then we will be in a better position on the way forward.”
According to Breen, “World Athletics has directed that the dates of national championships should be in August and have given a window of August 8th – 9th.”
Additionally, “For the SLAA, we have a special case and because of this we have to decide how we proceed. Our main facility, the George Odlum Stadium (GOS) in Vieux Fort is currently a Hospital (St Jude) and this will require for us to re-design our access and use for the safety of our athletes and officials.”
The VOICE also made contact with the CEO for Veterans in Sports Inc (VISI), Alvin Malaykhan about the 2nd edition of the International Masters Football Tournament which was scheduled for May 30th – June 1st 2020 and the annual Veterans Football Tournament slated for November.
This was his reply: “We have had 20 foreign teams and close to 700 participants who had shown positive interest in this year’s tournament. Most of the teams are begging that we don’t cancel or postpone, but I do think we will have no choice but to postpone.”
He continued, “This is a major hit to our sports tourism sector; this year was proving to be one of the more successful tournaments to date.”
Malaykhan said, “Amidst the Coronavirus, we have not decided on a fixed date as yet as we continue to adhere to the various protocols by the CMO.”
“In terms of the annual Veterans Football Tournament, we are hoping to go through with the scheduled date which is November. We are also hoping to make the Kick for Cure (KFC) presentation when this is all over.
Also on board was the Saint Lucia National Cricket Association President, Carol Henry who said all cricket activities in terms of tournaments and group practice/ training sessions had been “halted subject to the country’s protocols”.
Henry said, “The SLNCA continues to monitor developments with Covid-19 locally, regionally and internationally for direction and guidance for a recommencement. At the moment, there is no set date or tentative timeframe for the players to get back on the square. This year was progressing nicely in terms of SLNCA’s calendar of activities.”
According to Henry, “Some fine performances were recorded in the Two Day Tournament; we placed third at the Windward Islands Under 15 level. We held our own in the Windward Islands Women’s T20 and 50 Overs Tournaments after which several of our players were selected for the Under 19 and Senior Windward Islands Women’s teams. Covid -19 has severely disrupted our programme going forward.”