One of the most pivotal physical activities in Bahamian society, directly affecting the development of thousands of youth in the country, is at a standstill at a time when it is usually booming and thriving.
Reference is to high school sports that cannot convene right now, and cannot commence in any way.
Each school year, the government schools in the country start off with volleyball while the private schools engage in softball. Those teams have yet to be assembled as the student-athletes are at home having virtual classes online. Given the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, becoming widespread on this side of the world since earlier in the year, a lot of student-athletes in The Bahamas have been out of competitive shape and have been lacking meaningful physical activity since March – a period of over seven months.
It was hoped and anticipated that high school sports would have returned to some degree of normalcy by now, but it’s looking like it will be on hold at least until January 2021.
Ainsworth Beckford, a coach at Nassau Christian Academy (NCA) and one of the conveners for softball in the Bahamas Association of Independent Secondary Schools (BAISS), said it’s the most frustrated he’s been since he started coaching sports here in The Bahamas. He said as far as he knows, it’s the same with coaches in the Government Secondary Schools Sports Association (GSSSA), the Bahamas Scholastic Association (BSA) and the Grand Bahama Secondary Schools Athletic Association (GBSSAA) – the other three major secondary schools sports leagues in The Bahamas.
“As it stands now, we have not discussed anything at all as a body as to when we will resume and that’s understandable given what is going on with COVID-19. We have practically just put everything on hold. It’s at the red light at the moment, and we’re just waiting to see how things develop,” said Beckford. “Furthermore, the students are not even in school at the moment so we’re not able to get them together to do any practice or anything of that nature. It’s just a wait-and-see situation we are in right now.”
Some of the sporting disciplines have restarted, but mostly, it’s club activities and workouts rather than school teams gathering and league play commencing. The two major youth baseball leagues on New Providence have been shut down since March. In the BAISS, they were unable to complete their sports calendar at the end of the last school year. The sporting disciplines of track and field, volleyball and soccer were greatly affected. In the government schools sector, track and field, softball, baseball and soccer suffered as the respective teams were unable to complete, and in some cases, start, their respective seasons.
Despite what’s going in the country with The Bahamas experiencing an aggressive second wave of cases of the novel coronavirus, it is understood that a number of coaches are going ahead with practices and workout sessions.
“In track and field, it appears that a lot of the school coaches and club coaches are going ahead with their practices, hopefully while maintaining social distancing guidelines and safety measures. Also, I noticed that soccer athletes are still working out. In the BAISS, we’re just waiting to see what unfolds in January. If it is bright, then we will resume. If it is still dark, we will stay indoors and stay away,” said Beckford. “As a coach, I could tell you that this is really frustrating. We are accustomed to a life of being outdoors dealing with kids, and if we don’t get that, it really could affect our health.
“Also, we love what we do. We are fulfilled when we are able to pass on our knowledge as coaches to so many youngsters and then see that translate into success on the field of play. We get enjoyment out of that community service that we provide as coaches. I know that a lot of my friends are tired of being locked away, and so am I. COVID isn’t having any mercy on anyone. It’s out there and it’s affecting us all. Right now, we just have to stay indoors, make the sacrifice and hopefully things will work out for the better next year.”
None of the major school leagues in The Bahamas – the BAISS, the GSSSA, the BSA or the GBSSAA – have released any schedule of events for January 2021. It is expected that they would all create condensed schedules in all of the major sporting disciplines so as to give the student-athletes some semblance of sports activity this school year.