Face-to-face instruction in schools was set to resume on Tuesday January 11, but as COVID-19 cases rose around the county, virtual instruction resumed, putting a hold on the resumption of high school sports.
It is approaching two years since the Government Secondary Schools Sports Association (GSSSA) has staged any of its sporting disciplines competitively. President of GSSSA Varel Davis said their main goals are to get after-school activities started again.
“Since the pandemic started, our plans were always to see if we can engage in after-school activities,” Davis said. “Our plans always depended on us bringing the kids back to school face-to-face. It is hard trying to form teams when the children are not in school. Our whole idea from day one was once the kids get back to school face-to-face, we would be able to start some form of sporting activities. When we started the new year in September 2021, we were hoping that we could have begin something then but we were back on a virtual platform and were not able to engage in any after-school sports.”
The association is hoping to put on a cross country event as well as stage other sporting disciplines when face-to-face learning resumes.
Within the next two weeks, the Ministry of Education will make a decision on whether to keep the virtual learning platform in place or go face-to-face. However, cases of COVID-19 have remained in the triple digits daily, and face-to-face instruction is looking less likely to resume within two weeks. Davis said they sent a proposal to the Ministry of Education, and with this latest variant surfacing, getting high school sports back in action will be difficult at this point.
“The key is, once our kids are back to face-to-face learning, we will be able to have practice sessions and go from there. We are still hoping and praying that we can engage in after-school activities. Kids are asking in online classes if we are going to have sports again. It is hard telling them that we are hoping and praying that things will get better so we can be able to start some form of sports. The coaches are ready to get back into it,” Davis said.
According to Davis, some of the coaches have found a way to keep their athletes engaged.
“We have some coaches who have been doing some training and getting athletes involved in some of these clubs and tournaments just to keep them active. A lot of coaches still assisting and doing some form of training despite nothing happening in the GSSSA right now. We are still engaged in some form of training to keep some of our athletes focused and get some of them off on scholarships,” Davis stated.
In addition, Davis mentioned that some coaches and officials have not received pay for services rendered from the Ministry of Education.
“We are still awaiting payment of coaches and officials that are still pending from as far back as 2017. This is something we have to look at whenever we decide to engage in after-school sports. Officials reach out to me stating that they don’t know if they will officiate any more GSSSA games because they can’t get paid in a timely manner. This is a vexing problem that really needs to be addressed,” Davis said.
Sports has been on hold in the high school sector since the pandemic reached The Bahamas in March of 2020. The remainder of 2020 was lost as well the entire 2020-2021 season, and so far, the 2021-2022 season, which ultimately affects physical development, social interaction and the competitive spirit of young athletes. Also, it undoubtedly hurt the chances of senior high school athletes in obtaining scholarships.