Oct 23, 2020 Letters
It is difficult not to be impressed by the published reports of the Minister of Sports’ busy schedule of interactions with respective sports organisations.
However, this reader must have missed any comparable account of the Minister’s interaction with colleague Minister of Education regarding the critical inclusion of games at schools, albeit in the challenging pandemic environment.
One recognises the anxious reservations of parents regarding their most active progeny being exposed, albeit at an age most resistant to the COVID infection.
On the other hand, there must be some considerable numbers of youths in various locations who must be chomping at the bits, pondering how and when their private career ambitions in sports will ever be realised – even though discouraged by parents in more normal circumstances.
But exactly what are ‘normal circumstances’ would older generations like mine ask? For we were accustomed to our education programmes being inclusive of planned periods of organised ‘galavanting’ as my grandmother would describe those annual terms of athletics, cricket, football, hockey, table tennis, just coincidentally in alphabetical order – certainly at Queen’s and St. Stanislaus Colleges, and to a more limited extent The Bishops’ High School in Georgetown.
School sports were in fact a family celebration. But this normalcy in no way distracted from academic achievement. Indeed there were in my time two Games Masters at Queen’s; while two others were respectively members of QC’s first and second division cricket teams.
It was during those early 1950s that QC produced academic talent that very soon earned selection at the national level, in a range of sports, except for the young Bruce Pairaudeau who was selected for the West Indies Test Cricket Team. He not long after migrated to New Zealand. The other national cricketers included Arnold Gibbons who later became a University Professor in English; Leroy Jackman who batted elegantly at No.3 became an Attorney-at-Law; while Aubrey Bishop, a left arm spinner would be well known as having become Chancellor of the Judiciary. Aubrey also went on to represent Guyana in football, and must have been the first appointed FIFA referee in this country.
But emerging from the same school team were the following professional achievers: Veterinarian Dr. Frank Mongul was a champion all-round athlete and cricketer, as well as excelled at national hockey along with Paediatrician Dr. Walter Chin, and Surgeon Wallace ‘Bud’ Lee, and of course Mike Glasford (Chemist) who became the first local Director of Bookers in the United Kingdom.
But then there were future diplomats in Cecil Pilgrim with whom I opened the QC bowling attack in First Division cricket competition; and Rudolph Collins whose high-jumping skills clearly indicated that he would be a future high achiever.
My classmates Drs. Mohan Ragbeerand Maurice Luckhoo, and Mauldie Baird along with Maurice Moore, had to be contented with membership of our Second Division Cricket team. Maurice, however, soon compensated by becoming national captain of football and hockey. He qualified as an Accountant. Meanwhile Dr. Klautky competed while at Queen’s in international athletics. By now, everyone should know to what heights athlete Hamilton Greene rose.
Fred Wills, arguably the most brilliant student of his generation was a British Guiana Government Scholar and returned as an outstanding Attorney-at-Law. Somewhat of an all-rounder, he contributed much to the development of our young cricketers. He was later appointed a diplomat and later (one suspects reluctantly) accepted the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs.
By no means can one forget the sports achievers who emerged from St. Stanislaus College almost in the same breath – Joe Hazlewood, wicketkeeper. Neville Thomas and Brian Patoir performed at the National level, along with brothers Peter and Leslie Wight. The latter went on to play a single Test Match for the West Indies; while Ivor Mendonca (wicketkeeper) and Charlie Stayers (opening bowler) made several Test appearances.
Ken Corsbie and Michael Gilkes retired from international athletics, the former went to excite in theatre and on radio, while the latter in time became a Professor at UWI. Cecil Glasgow who became a national goalie, was one of the earliest Police Cadets to be selected. Recollection is that Magistrates Crane and Trim were earlier footballers.
Of course, there were other achievers from contemporary secondary schools – in the legal and medical professions, as well as in sports. Indeed, there used to be a well-organised secondary schools cricket and table tennis competitions. Out of the latter emerged champions like Dennis Patterson who led the national team. The first Guianese to qualify in Estate Management at LSE, Dennis became the first head of the Property Evaluation Department of Government.
What those generations took for granted and imbibed, is an attribute which has since dissipated – called ‘team spirit’. Some learnt to lead while others of matching intellect followed and/or collaborated.
Importantly also, we learnt to lose graciously while congratulating the winner. These were moments of self-discovery and of discovering others.
It is true that there has since developed a fulsome economic drive to almost all sports, interestingly enough intensifying team spirit. So that in these pandemic times, with considerably reduced eyewitnesses, if any, such team sports as football, hockey (ice), baseball, rugby are still being played; while there is more distancing in tennis. Regrettably, athletics have suffered with the postponement of the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
The question is however, what opportunities are being sought to incite the discipline of sportsmanship in our schools; while, almost contradictorily, we appear to excite in the respective adult clubs?
When again are our children going to be taught to be sportsmen and women; to learn of leadership, and of productive teamsmanship, so easily misnamed ‘unity’ – that is barely displayed?
What ‘virtual’ device shall we utilise to encourage citizens of the future to engage on the same playing field?
Who remembers ‘mens sana in corpore sanum’ – long since an irrelevance, moreso in these pandemic times?
Looking forward to a ‘Ransomic’ response.
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