What a delight it has been for the Barbados TODAY news team to bring you coverage of the Chefette Frosteez 2023 National Primary Schools Athletic Championships (NAPSAC) throughout the week.
After a two-year hiatus, the primary schools track meet got out the blocks on Monday when schools in the Andrea Blackett Zone battled at the Usain Bolt Sports Complex.
The stands were packed and the facility was lined with spectators including students, staff, parents and family. There were the usual screams and shouts as favourites crossed the finishing line on the Ryan Brathwaite Track. Bedecked in the various colours of the school, there were no doubts which school some of the spectators were supporting.
But weeks ago before we got here schools across Barbados held their individual school meets and rewarded top performers. Parents and guardians either took an off day or a half-day in order to be part of the school spectacle.
While the students are the ones who walk away with the spoils, there is always a great sense of pride and accomplishment felt by the parents of these athletes. Parents too bask in the glory, especially since they witness firsthand the hard work put in by their offspring.
That is why here in Barbados the Hilary Term is often referred to as the “Sports Term”. And while years ago, many a games teacher and athletic coach came under fire for pulling students from their academic work to train and compete, not so much now as we move to embrace sports and entertainment as two viable and very lucrative career options.
We have reached the stage where business places, Government offices, restaurants and the like have their TVs locked to CBC during the Finals of these athletic meets. They have become a part of our culture with young and old looking forward to seeing who the track star will be.
There is no doubt about it, no other school activity across Barbados creates the same energy and hype that NAPSAC does among primary school students. Likewise, when it comes to secondary schools none can match the Barbados Secondary Schools Athletic Championships (BSSAC).
The comradery is as evident as the rivalry. When BSSAC starts debates rage on at workplaces with everyone supporting their respective alma mater.
To say we missed the two meets would be a huge understatement. There is a special pride and joy that NAPSAC brings to those hundreds of students who leave the sporting complex with medals. Even those who only run as part of a relay team are left to feel as though they were a part of something meaningful. Then there is the pride felt among the entire school body.
This week so far glory has come to Good Shepherd Primary winning both the boys and the girls in the Andrea Blackett Zone on Monday. On Tuesday Christ Church Girls’ and St Stephen’s were the winners of the Jim Wedderburn Zone, while All Saint’s and Reynold Weekes won the Anton Norris Zone on Wednesday. Thursday, Charles F Broome did the double copping the Marcia Trotman Zone.
The action continues on Monday, February 13 with the Patsy Callender Zone while on Tuesday the 14th is the Obadele Zone. The Freida Nichols Zone with the showdown on Wednesday the 15th. The semifinals are on Thursday, March 2 and the Finals Friday, March 10.
Corporate Barbados must be commended for its role in ensuring that the championships come off. Chefette has stepped up as the overall sponsor of the championships, however, each Zone has a different sponsor as well. Wibisco, Milo, Sunshine Cereal, Pine Hill and others have all claimed a Zone. We must also mention that some schools have sponsors too. Champions Good Shepherd Primary are Jordan’s Jaguars securing sponsorship from the nearby supermarket chain in Fitts Village, St James.
NAPSAC Chairman Janelle Denny, who has been at the helm for some time now, continues to do a remarkable job not only in pooling and securing sponsorship but as it relates to the planning, organisation and execution of the meet. We must take into account that NAPSAC has over 80 schools competing over eight days. The championships have grown over the years since at one stage there were five Zones equating to one week of sporting action.
But again, thanks to Denny and her team more schools have been added. Some of the private primary schools which never took part have now joined causing the Zones to increase from five to eight.
NAPSAC is an important stage in the journey of any budding athlete in Barbados. While the weekend track meets between clubs will always have their place as it relates to training and development, there is something magical about the NAPSAC showdown.
Added to that, when an athlete shines at NAPSAC they have a chance to be selected to represent Barbados. Many athletes have made the transition to track and field competitions such as the Caribbean Union of Teachers’ Biennial Games (C.U.T.) the CARIFTA Games, CAC Games, and Pan AM Games.
We hope that Barbadians continue to support our youth through these two athletic meets. We hope, as promised by the Minister of Sport recently, that both NAPSAC and BSSAC will return to their home the National Stadium very soon.
The place where many a record was created and later shattered. A place where many outstanding, thrilling and nail-biting races were run. A place where schools chanted about each other in the different stands creating an exhilarating atmosphere. A place where the likes of Wilan Louis, Janelle Innis, Sheena Gooding, Letitia Gilkes, Levi Cadogan, Rivaldo Leacock, Mary Fraser, Sada Williams and Jonathan Jones to name a few, put down stellar performances bringing merriment to the hearts of all who watched them.