Thursday, February 29, 2024

NAPSAC is No.1


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And the little ones shall lead them!
In many respects, the Pine Hill National Primary Schools’ Athletic Championships (NAPSAC) came of age this tenth anniversary, and I would dare say it has taken the No.1 spot as the best athletics meet in Barbados.
The atmosphere can’t be beaten, not at the Barbados Relay Fair nor Inter-School Sports.
There is nothing quite like when you enter the National Stadium and hear the drums, cymbals and voices of the children raised in song as they cheer their athletes all day long.
DJ Russell keeps things hyped with music in the lull between the races and it is clean, wholesome entertainment.  
The teachers are there in the stands with the children and they keep behaviour in check. Parents, many of whom don’t support their older children, take the day off from work and pack their picnic lunches, also giving strong support in the Louis Lynch Stand.
All of the stands are packed at NAPSAC – even the Clarence Jemmott A Stand – to the far north.
The purchase of the electronic clock was a stroke of genius. It gives spectators an idea of the times because it usually takes a few minutes before results are read and it builds anticipation about whether a record has been broken.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement and one area which needs serious attention is the programme.
It denies a runner the competitive advantage when soon after running the 600 or 800 metres, Under-13 athletes are back on the line for the 400 metres and the Under-11s haven’t touched the track yet.
One solution could be to run off the 50 metres for the Under-7s as usual, scrap the 80 metres for the Under-9s and start with them doing the 100 metres. That way, there would be a longer recovery time for the older athletes.
The classic example was Cheyanne Cummins of Christ Church Girls’, who came up against a fresh Shontae Cole of Grazettes and lost a race she had won all season.
I am not taking anything away from Cole, but had the programme been structured differently, Cummins would not have gone to the line with less than an hour’s recovery time.
She gave it quite a big effort, a good push, and had she won, there might have been a different champion among the girls.
That being said, congratulations to West Terrace, who created history by winning both crowns. Their athletes really stepped up as the meet went on.
Other issues which need to be addressed are directly linked to the deteriorating state of the National Stadium.
NAPSAC must be applauded for live streaming. Everyone can’t fit in the Louis Lynch Stand, and others simply can’t be away from work, so that is a brilliant move.
However, it can’t be at the expense of the traditional print media, who have been there since 2002. These journalists should not be squeezed into a corner because there is nowhere to place their laptops.
Similarly, just as announcer Michael Jules took the chair to provide his own inimitable brand of commentary for the 100-metre races, the speakers in the Louis Lynch Stand went down.
Attempts to have them repaired took a long time and spectators were left wondering why races were running off in silence.
We have gone way past the lifespan of this facility that has served us so well. The electricity also failed a few times and the media need dedicated spaces with a reliable Internet connection.


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