By Morissa Lindsay
The heavy downpour of rain has proven to be a challenge so far this term for the National Sports Council (NSC) cutting and marking crews who are unable to properly prepare and mark the playing fields because of saturated grounds across the island.
NSC Assistant Director, Adrian Donovan expanded on those challenges after the NAPSAC launch yesterday at the Assad Haloute Complex in Lears, St. Michael as he pleaded with the schools to be patient during this track and field term as the council with its resources he said are doing its best to prepare and maintain a total of 110 playing fields around the country.
“Maintaining a 110 playing field is a massive undertaking, so while we may not be on time to fulfill all the request we get from the schools and in general from the public, we are just asking for a little patience and to be understanding that there are other factors from time to time that inhibit us in fulfilling our daily duties at the council,” Donovan explained.
Donovan pointed to this month in particular which he said has been a very challenging time for the groundsmen at the NSC when it comes to cutting and marking of playing fields.
“We have been experiencing one of the wettest January in a long time and the rain has been causing us some setbacks. As usual we have tried to fulfill the request of the many schools which would include Private, Government, Special Needs, Tertiary Institutions and even Clubs, to mark the tracks at the respective venues. Football season is also upon us which will put a strain on our marking team,” he said.
Given the high demand especially where schools need NSC personnel to assist in numerous areas, Donovan stated that the late requests for personnel or workmanship does not help the situation.
“The situation is compounded when we get late requests from schools and only last Friday we had 15 school sports, next Friday on the 27 there are 23 scheduled to take place all across the island,” Donovan added.
The long-standing sports administrator reiterated that the issue comes from the inclement weather where the fields are soak, so much to a point that the tractors will endanger the field if they only attempt to go on them.
“We have already had to do remedial work on two fields this year because of the large tire marks that were left when we were trying to accommodate two school sports. In addition, the National Sports Council provides critical assistance to the schools whereby we assign coaches to assist the areas of officiating and in some cases the planning of the sports.
“Schools are normally allocated two coaches per school but in some special request permission is granted in case of Special Need Schools who actually requires us to run the whole officiating system. Despite some of the challenges that we are experiencing, our marking crew is now working seven days a week in order to fulfill any backlog that would occur as a result of being pushed back by the rain,” Donovan said.
The Assistant Director suggested that schools, especially the public ones run by the Government should have their sports staggered instead of seeking to host it on a Friday which is the trend among schools who are having their annual inter-house sports this year.
“Another suggestion for the Principal and Physical Education teachers is to start their preparation in early December which would allow them more time to prepare for NAPSAC. Some schools have been caught behind the eight ball and are now trying to catch up to meet the first NAPSAC zonal meet.
“This Sports Council however will continue to play its part in ensuring that our facilities are well maintained but at the same time we have to ask for some patience because we are also faced with instances whereby our tractors are continually being damaged when hard materials are left on the playing field which causes the breakage of our swipes. So, that is another matter that has to be taken into consideration because when our equipment is put under a lot of use, it is only a matter of time before the machines break down,” Donovan added.