Tuesday, April 16, 2024

THE AL GILKES COLUMN: White men no longer jump?


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A FEW NIGHTS AGO I was watching a sports report on CBCTV8 about a basketball match when a strange thing happened. A white man ran up the court with the ball.
That was strange for me because it was not about an NBA match, in which I would expect to see white men jumping. It was a match played here in Barbados, at the Community College or the Gymnasium, in which one of the two teams had a white man on the court.
Back in the day that would not have been an oddity because white Bajan men were very dominant in all kinds of sporting activity in the country, including the two most popular – cricket and football.
They not only played for the various white clubs of the day but were also very much a part of representative Barbados teams as well as the West Indies cricket team.
I was an avid table tennis player in my day when one of the best on the island was a white youngster named Joe Hoad, who was equally good on the cricket field with bat or ball. He, more than likely, inherited his sporting talent from his father Teddy Hoad, a former member and captain of the West Indies cricket team.
My fellow columnist, Richard Hoad, was one of Joe’s brothers but although he too might also have been genetically endowed with his father’s talent, I can’t remember ever seeing him on any field of play during our schooldays. My assumption is that because of the “lowdown” condition about which he boasts, any attempt at running would have caused him to trip himself up over himself.
Nevertheless, Dick Hoad, it is to you that I turn today to help me solve this puzzle relating to the almost total absence of white representation in popular local sporting activity, from cricket to football, table tennis, athletics, basketball, netball, you name it.
There was a time when the toast of every horse racing fan was the great Chally Jones, who was but one of several white jockeys at the time. Quite apart from that is the fact that a white Bajan female jockey has been immortalised in song by calypsonian Malik in his Sonia Could Ride. Seeing a white rider in the saddle today is as odd as watching a black Bajan recently representing England in a predominantly white cricket team against the West Indies at Kensington Oval and in the 2014 T20 World Cup currently being played in Bangladesh.
Nowadays if you want to see white Bajans in sporting action you have to head for a polo field, the Soup Bowl or one of the various surfing spots around the coast, or climb a hill with a pair of binoculars and watch a yacht race.
But tell me something, Richard. Is it possible that this disappearance of young white men and women from the local sporting scene has to do with the fall-off in overall reproduction on the island about which Minister of Education Ronald Jones has been lamenting?
If that is the case, older folk like you and me will have no alternative but to raise up our half-dead selves and play our part in helping to increase the population to the 325 000 that Jones wants within the next decade.


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