By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
The cluster of COVID-19 positive cases has halted sporting activities within the territory for a second time, exactly five months after the first lockdown, when officials announced the closure of events on Friday night, after nine cases were found.
At the time, a sense of sports normalcy was taking place with the BVI Softball Association preseason tournament entering its penultimate weekend ahead of a planned September 5 opening, marking the third anniversary since the last games were played before Hurricane Irma struck in 2017. The association had planned a March 21 opening, when the country went into its first lockdown.
Games in the BVI Football Association National League were in progress on both Tortola and Virgin Gorda while the Sea Cows Bay Basketball Club was moving its B&B Camp which covers basketball and baseball to the Seventh District, after basketball only was played in the Eight District during the first week.
Similarly, the M&M Soccer Academy was extending its summer camp after two successful weeks of activities when the second lockdown was announced.
M&M Soccer Academy founder and director Morris Mark said the program that attracted 20 participants went very well.
“What I was trying to address wasn’t all just football only. I was trying to address more individual disciplines and preparedness for everyday life,” Mark told Island Sun Sports. “Every morning we had sessions before we went on the field. We talked about discipline and how to prepare ourselves and what they as individuals have to do whether it’s at home, on the street or in the world including COVID-19 and how it affected them as youngsters during the lockdown when they were at home and couldn’t be out. It was more a lot of educational situations along with football related activities.”
Sea Cows Bay Basketball Club President Milton McLean said they saw their numbers increasing from the first day in the program that was sponsored by the BVI Olympic Committee with support from the Rotary Club of Tortola and Trellis Bay Market. Both basketball and baseball had a limit of 36 participants and they saw their numbers growing from 22 to 30. McLean thanked parents in the Seventh and Eight Districts for supporting the program and the Youth Empowerment Project (YEP), which participated for the second year.
“We were very pleased with the turnout,” McLean told Island Sun sports. “The kids were very enthusiastic and full of energy. You could see the enthusiasm growing as the camp went along. And from a skills perspective, we’re very, very happy and some of the trainers commented that the kids were learning really fast. So that tells you that, we really had a successful camp.”
McLean commended the trainers for doing an excellent job—including the younger ones who demonstrated a great deal of patience, working with the 8-12 years olds. He said for 80-85% of them, it was their first time going through some of the skills.
“You could see the rawness and we think for most of them, it was definitely an introduction,” he said. “I’m very happy when you get these young kids who haven’t been exposed to the sport, because when they’re raw like that, you can really train them in the proper fundamentals. When they’ve been exposed for 2-3 years, you find that they have some very bad habits and it’s very, very difficult to break them out of it. So this group was terrific in being able to be properly introduced to the skills of basketball and baseball.”
McLean said because of the number girls in the program planned for baseball, their interest was in softball and they shifted their focus.
“The rest of the BVI had better look out, because if these girls continue with their enthusiasm and interest, the East is going to produce a couple of good softball teams and the rest of the BVI will have to reckon with that,” he said. “They’re a bit raw and you can see potentially, they’re going to be very good, because when you have that interest and enthusiasm and you show up, then everything will basically fall in place.”