The COVID-19 Monitoring Unit has granted permission to stage the National Primary School Athletics Championship (NAPSAC) next year, in a massive boost to the popular annual meet but there will be changes to accommodate the pandemic environment.
Assistant director of the National Sports Council, Mona Alleyne, confirmed the development during a press conference on Thursday afternoon at the Barbados Union of Teachers headquarters.
Alleyne, who is also the chairperson for the NAPSAC committee, said tough decisions were made in the interests of all involved.
“We felt it was important to plan a competition for 2021. We felt that it was important because we knew that the greater part of 2020 was little or no competition,” Alleyne said.
“And with track and track and field, which is the basis for NAPSAC and the basis for all other disciplines, it was important that we decided to have a competition for 2021 on the scale that we would have been given permission from the COVID-19 unit.”
“So we set about our planning for NAPSAC 2021 in September. We looked at how best we could present a program that we could give to the COVID committee to see whether they would give us permission to host the 2021 event.
“And we set up a small committee made up of our assistant chair Janelle Denny, Mr Leo Garnes, Ryan Toppin – members of the NPSAC committee to look at an adjusted program for NAPSAC 2021.”
She added: “We tried to cover as many angles as we could so that we could be clear in our presentation. We asked permission to meet with the COVID, they met with us, they appreciated the fact we were taking into consideration the COVID-19 protocols and we were given permission to host the 2021 competition.
“Our presentation was thorough and permission was granted based on all we presented. We were even given an extra boost in that we were told that it could be the template for track and field competition within BSSAC (Barbados Secondary Schools Athletics Championship), NAPSAC and the wider AAB (Athletics Association of Barbados).”
No spectators will be allowed at the event but assurance was given that the competition will be live-streamed, with NAPSAC once again partnering with Creative Junction.
“We have made a decision that only the teams and the designated NAPSAC officials will be given entry to the facility,” said deputy chairperson of the NAPSAC committee, Janelle Denny.
“Those being NAPSAC officials and other entities like the media, medical crew. We therefore would not be having spectators. There will be an online viewing of the championships within our online platform.”
She explained that there were a few areas of concern with the venue being top of the top list. However, after extensive dialogue, the decision was taken to host the event next year at the Usain Bolt Sports Complex.
Zones for next year’s event have been increased by three to eight with Denny explaining this would allow each zone to have approximately 10 to 11 schools within each zone.
Schools will attend a draw scheduled for January 6th, next year where they will draw for the new zonal competition.
Zonal competition will commence February 15 with action continuing on February 16, 18, 19, 23, 24, 25 and 26. The semi-final is scheduled for March 5 and the final March 16.
There will be no quarter-finals next year with Denny explaining this was in an attempt to limit numbers.
“For the life span of NAPSAC, the quarter-finals have had double the amount of athletes on the quarter-final day,” she said.
“Again in terms of managing the numbers, the quarter-finals would not be a good idea to have for the 2021 competition and therefore it has been omitted.
“The advancement procedure from zonal to semi-final would be that of the top 16 athletes and teams within their respective events to go straight to the semi-finals.”
There will also be no under-seven category in the new competition to further accommodate social distancing.
“That is because of the usual temperament of those particular athletes,” Denny stressed.
“We believe that it would be very difficult for teams as well as the NAPSAC officials to be able to appropriately social distance them throughout the duration of the competition.”