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Burnett: Hold BSSAC at night

by Barbados Today
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Track and field coach Gabriel Burnett says it’s time for the Barbados Secondary Schools’ Athletic Championships (BSSAC) to become a night meet after he staged a second successful St Michael School sports under the lights.

Burnett made the comments as another 5,000 spectators turned up for Friday’s second edition of Glow sports at the Usain Bolt Sports Complex.

“I’ve been trying to get BSSAC to do this for years now so it’s not a matter of following my model but to be fair, though, BSSAC is a bigger entity so it would be more challenging but this is clearly working so we will see what happens,” said the former Olympian.

“I think night sports is just the way to go. It’s a lot of hard work, that much I can say and I actually contemplated going back to the day sports, but it’s cool and good for the athletes and you get people coming out to support because the time allows it.

“It’s not about us setting the trend either, it’s just that we had a need and we did it and now it’s great to see other schools doing it so hopefully we can get BSSAC on board,” he added.

It’s been the biggest talking point in local athletics since St Michael grabbed all the headlines with last year’s inaugural Glow Sports.

The spectacle was such that thousands of outside students, athletes and even noted Bajan entertainers like Salt made their way down to the Lazaretto just to witness the novel event.

And the success hasn’t gone unnoticed by the BSSAC organizing committee either, as assistant meet director Andrew Brathwaite has lauded St Michael for the initiative.

But at the same time Brathwaite doesn’t believe that making BSSAC a night meet is as simple as moving the championships under floodlights.

“I will say that the committee has had some discussion with regards to making changes to BSSAC, however any move is a process and one that has to be carefully watched because there are a number of variables we must consider,” Brathwaite explained.

“I still want to compliment the school for the initiative because it is a novel idea and the support they get is a reflection of that, but you must appreciate that the logistics for one school at night will be different from having 22 schools competing under the same circumstances.

“As I said, before we can even think of such a move we need to have discussions at a number of levels and we have not had those types of discussions as yet,” he added.

Just last month, chairman of the National Sports Council Mcdonald Fingall revealed that plans were afoot to have BSSAC held at night and over the weekend.

He said the change was conceptualized to attract more interest and bigger crowds to the athletic event.

It wouldn’t be the first major change facing the widely-popular Inter-School Sports, as BSSAC shifted to a preliminary two-zone format and three-day finals as recent as 2016.

Previously, the school championships had three days of preliminaries followed by two final days before the meet was scrapped altogether in 2015 due to the unavailability of the National Stadium.

Other venues were considered at the time but even a smaller meet like St Michael’s sports faced challenges at the Usain Bolt Sports Complex.

“Of course you know we had security issues with people spilling over from the stands and the football field so we had to cut the numbers from last year because we just had too many people to fit the venue,” Burnett revealed.

“We had to increase security personnel this time and then also cut the numbers because we simply had too many people but we’re still pretty pleased with the turnout so we want to thank the public for coming out to support.

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