Friday, April 19, 2024

Keep-fit by the court


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The lights were shining brightly, as youths engaged in healthy activity on the Lodge Hill, St Michael hard court.
The night winds were just cool enough to temper the atmosphere without creating a chilly, uncomfortable feeling. The electric lights on lampposts that could be seen in the distance added to the ambience of the pleasant outdoor activity.
This was the scene which unfolded before us when we turned right off the ABC Highway after we left the Warrens business area and were headed to the Hinds Hill junction just up the hill from the University of the West Indies.
The hard court was a hive of activity. From all appearances, the folks were serious about the volleyball game being played. There was clearly no fooling around.
However, the side-of-court activity gave one the impression that this was no official game in progress. There was a calmness and friendliness pervading the space which was uncharacteristic of sporting combat. It looked more like a civilized family gathering. First of all, there were the little children who were eagerly capturing the on-court engagements. It was as if they were jealously waiting for the day when they would join those on the court.  
The keep-fit enthusiasts also found their spot to do some exercises. Male and female, they openly demonstrated their passion, strength and dexterity on the sidelines.
Sidelined by injury and seated with crutches propped up on her chair was Lurlyn Murray-Tull, a First Division volleyball player with Club United. She told us that she was injured in a game last Saturday night and was expected to be out of action for three weeks because of a sprained ankle.
“I came here to give moral support,” she declared.
Former Barbados volleyball representative, Nicole Puckering, captain of Club United’s  First Division team, was engrossed in the game, both on and off the field. When off the field she spared a brief moment to speak with us while still keeping her eye on the game. Dedication was clearly etched all over her body. This was a game she became interested in while a student at the Lodge School and has remained her passion.
Nicole informed us that the team had adopted this hard court as its home ground even though the players came from various parishes. They were sure to be here two nights a week for rigorous practice and one night at the nearby Queen’s College for physical exercise.
She introduced us to the coach, Andrew Brathwaite, who is also the current Barbados female team coach. He, like Nicole, is a former Lodge School student and is a volleyball enthusiast. Andrew was also busy ensuring his charges were paying attention to the finest details of the skills required to execute with excellence. Here was a very focused man.
“Braff”, as he is affectionately called, still gave us the opportunity to hear his story. He had been coaching for 20 years and taking pleasure in doing so from the inception.
“The first tournament I coached my team won,” he declared.
As a teacher at Queen’s College, he has been able to attract a number of students to his team. Coaching and teaching play a great part in helping him to contribute to the development of the youth.
“I love what I am doing because I see myself as helping people to develop themselves through sports and education. Here on this hard court we have been able to fit into the community even though most of us do not live here,” he said.
For the folks we met on Saturday night at the Lodge Hill hard court a focused approach allows them to make a positive contribution to Bajan life.

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