Hosting Windward Islands Schools Games 2017

Yesterday and today sport officials of the Ministry of Education played host to sport leaders of the respective Windward Islands Schools’ programmes. The two-day meeting saw the leaders reviewing the Windward Islands Schools Games (WISG) of 2016 held in Grenada and discussing the plans laid by the Vincentian Schools Games Committee (SGC).
While this is an annual meeting on the calendars of the Windward Islands, this years’ meeting comes against the backdrop of a recent meeting convened by WINLOTT in Grenada to discuss the future of the WISG.
According to reports emanating from Grenada there may well be a number of proposed changes being placed before the respective governments and countries and these may impact the WISG in significant ways going forward.
In the meantime, St Vincent and the Grenadines is well advanced with its planning to host the WISG. This country last hosted the event in 2013 when we lost the athletics competition by a measly two points in what many still see as a travesty on the part of issues that could readily have been avoided.
Local Organising Committee
It is the responsibility of the host country to establish a Local Organising Committee.
The responsibility of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) is to undertake the organisation and conduct of the Windward Islands Secondary Schools Games. This LOC is answerable to the Ministry of Education in all instances.
The size and structure of the LOC should reflect the competitions being planned.
The LOC must be large enough that work can be spread around and individual members are not overloaded by tasks delegated to them but small enough to function effectively. There must be constant collaboration between members of the LOC through the Secretary/Secretariat such that all are duly in the know about what is happening at all times.
In the case of St Vincent and the Grenadines hosting the WISG 2017, the sports are still Athletics, Basketball, Football, Netball and Volleyball.
Teams arrive on Friday 21 July and depart on Sunday 30 July. Competition begins following the opening ceremony on 22 July and continues through to 30 July with one rest day scheduled for Wednesday 26 July.
Generally, the LOC comprises the leadership of the administrative department (inclusive of finance) for the WISG as well as of sport technical and all logistical areas.
The LOC does not have responsibility for the local team in any aspect. This is the responsibility of the SGC.
The LOC therefore manages the Games just as meticulously as any multi-sport Games that occurs across the world. Nothing is left out of the planning and administrative processes.
The accommodation for participating teams in the WISG2017 is once more the West St George Secondary School (WSGS) located in Belair.
While clearly we are four years away from the last time this facility was used for the proposed purpose it still meets the requirements of the organisers and, with requisite work, would serve as an appropriate Games Village for all participants.
Usually, the Games Village is managed by a Village Mayor, who has the awesome responsibility of overseeing all aspects of the venue. He has to ensure that all rules and regulations regarding use of the facility are adhered to by all and that for the duration of the Games the occupants can feel safe and comfortable.
The Games Village is the home away from home for all participants.
It must also be remembered that these Games are also about building long-lasting friendships. Because athletes spend so much of their time at the Games Village care must be taken to create the right atmosphere that at once allows for focus on what they are here for and also for social interaction.
The second most important aspect of hosting any edition of the WISG is food.
Athletes must eat well if they are to compete favourably at all times.
This aspect of the LOC must always be led by experience and Ms Michelle Guy meets all of the requirements and may well be said to exceed them. She is the one who managed this aspect of the Games in 2013 and at each of the editions of the Inter Primary and Secondary Schools Championships for the past several years.
Care is taken in respect of the identification, evaluation and selection of caterers for the three daily meals that must be provided to the participating teams. This includes ensuring that meals meet the nutritional requirements of athletes in particular since, as is the norm, these events are really about the athletes and offering them optimum conditions for performing at their very best.
Vincentian caterers are well known for their capacity to deliver a wide variety of sumptuous meals and other culinary delights and the athletes would certainly be anxious to be primary beneficiaries for nine consecutive days.
The main feeding station is at the cafeteria at the Games Village.
Arrangements are usually made for meals to be delivered at competition venues when these are some distance from the Games Village. This was well done without complaints four years ago and there is every reason to believe that this year the standard would even be higher than on the previous occasion.
The third most critical area of service for the success of the WISG is transportation.
Here, reference is made to local transportation. Not much can be done by the LOC regarding air travel since this is the responsibility of the incoming delegations.
On the last occasion there was a combination of a transport service provider and the Ministry of Education’s School Bus service. This time around the former may well have to prevail.
The transportation plan allows for a transportation headquarters to be established at the Games Village with satellite arrangements at each of the competition venues and continuous contact with each of the vehicles while in service to monitor the situation at all times.
Importantly there were no complaints in 2013 about the quality and efficiency of the transportation service provided for the duration of the Games and it is expected that here again the standard set back them may well be exceeded.
Health and the Environment
The Sports Medicine Association, headed by Dr Perry De Freitas, collaborates with the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment and the SVG Red Cross to deliver excellent medial services at the nation’s major sporting events. This is the system that has been tried and tested for many years and would once more be in train for WISG2017.
Care must be taken to ensure that the Games Village becomes a model institution for cleanliness during the Games with garbage bins strategically placed around the compound and regular garbage pick-up by the Sanitation Department.
A temporary clinic with basic medical supplies must be established at the Games Village and there must be an arrangement with the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital as well as clinics within easy access of all training and competition venues to address emergencies that may arise during the period of the Games.
An increasingly important aspect to the WISG is the provision of education on the fight against the use of performance-enhancing substances and methods by athletes and coaches in order to gain a competitive edge over their fellow competitors. During the Games educational materials would be provided at the Games Village for members of participating delegations.
Adequate supplies of water would be on hand to ensure that in the warm climatic conditions athletes are not dehydrated.
Sport technical
The LOC is responsible for ensuring that the facilities identified for use as training and competition venues meet all requisite standards as per the respective international federations and their continental bodies.
All competitions must be conducted in accordance with the latest rules of the respective international bodies.
Training and competition venues have been identified for WISG2017. These include:
Arnos Vale Sports Complex – Athletics
Calliaqua Hard Court – Basketball
Georgetown Hard Court – Basketball and Netball
Georgetown (Chili) Playing Field – Football
Girls High School Hard Court – Volleyball
Glen Hard Court – Basketball and Netball
Victoria Park – Football
Alternative venues have also been considered and forms part of the planning process.
The LOC has also determined all of the requisite equipment for the different training and competition venues and a schedule of the competitions has already been prepared and discussed at the meeting.
Security is always a major concern for everyone these days and sport is of particular concern.
Parents of athletes involved in the WISG must be satisfied that while in St Vincent and the Grenadines their children are very well protected at all times.
The Ministry of National Security is represented on the LOC through the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force.
The officials of the Ministry of National Security has a security plan for the Games.
The location of the Games Village is in close proximity to the Calliaqua Police Station and another major security base that allows the LOC to feel satisfied that, as happened in 2013, the security of all visiting delegations is guaranteed.
Security is also to be provided at all training and competition venues.
WISG2017 takes place during the vacation period. This has posed several challenges to organisers in respect of attendance.
St Vincent and the Grenadines, in hosting the event in 2013, became the first country to schedule competitions in different parts of the country. This will continue this year.
Moving the competitions around the country allows participants to experience more of the host country, its varied culture. At the same time, it allows the host to have different communities experience the sport potential resident in the students of the Windward islands.
The opportunity exists to do much by way of promoting the WISG2017 and showcase St Vincent and the Grenadines as a sporting nation as well as good sporting hosts.
We can do this but only if we agree that it is an excellent opportunity to promote St Vincent and the Grenadines as the place you really want to be.