Apparently fans in the Caribbean are growing impatient. They are eager to see local football players do what they love.

Well, President of the Caribbean Football Union, Randolph Harris, says fans will have to wait. I agree.

Harris is concerned about the health risks involved in a return to live football in the Caribbean and doesn’t see it happening anytime soon.

According to Harris, a lack of resources makes putting preventative measures in place difficult. I completely understand. But there are others who suggest football should return sooner than later.

Somewhere along the way COVID-19 has become less of a concern and more of a joke. Especially in the world of sports though it means increasing the odds of let’s say, dying.

I’ll give you an exampleIt was reported that a football tournament with over 800 patrons was held at the Hellshire Beach in St Catherine. Let that seep in (I’ll wait).

It irks me that many people are casually getting on with life. Reducing the spread of Covid-19 is group work and everyone needs to play their part. If fans really loved and respected the players and others, they would be more understanding about decisions concerning safety.

It’s better to be safe than sorry. We all have a role to play in reducing the spread of Covid-19. Preventative measures include (but aren’t limited to) social distancing, wearing a mask and washing our hands frequently. Let's not forget the disease has the potential to kill. We wouldn't want to lose any more loved ones or beloved athletes.

Please share your thoughts on Twitter (@SportsMax_Carib) or in the comments section on Facebook (@SportsMax). Don’t forget to use #IAmNotAFan. Until next time!

The Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCo) is set to resume testing of athletes on Monday, June 15 after a month and a half of no activity because of the threat of COVID-19.

Trinidad and Tobago Bodybuilder Dexter Simon has always defied the odds and managed to emerge victoriously.

It has been about two months now since we have seen any live sport anywhere. Football, cricket, track and field, basketball, everything has ground to a halt as the world battles this pandemic in pretty much the same way it dealt with the Spanish Flu, just about 100 years ago.

Germany are set to restart their Bundesliga campaign and other European countries are looking to follow suit earliest.

The England and Wales Cricket Board, Cricket Australia, are actively looking at ways to restart cricket in their countries. Cricket West Indies have said nothing, except to say salaries might be cut in the near future.

Smaller cricket nations like the West Indies and Bangladesh, as you would imagine, are closer to the ground in terms of how much of a cushion they have for (unimaginable) eventualities like COVID-19.

I can understand the region taking a hit, but what I can’t understand, is how quiet the governing body for the sport here has been.

Chief Executive Officer, Johnny Grave, has made a couple of statements, one in respect to the Women’s cricket and how precarious postponements and cancellations make the sport in the region, and another about the salaries it pays out to regional players and the potential for reduction.

I get that. I get both statements. What I haven’t heard from Grave and his president Ricky Skerritt, is what, if any, strategies are being put in place for the regional game’s recovery?

And the truth is, there may be no answer to this, however, I want to know that Cricket West Indies have not just folded their hands in a time of crisis.

I have some ideas, and they may all be terrible ideas, but at the very least, I have them.

Leaders at a time like this must show their mettle.

In Jamaica, the hardest-hit Caribbean country by COVID-19, their leaders have made public, on a day-to-day basis, their strategy for fighting the spread of the disease and strategies to help those impacted.

When schools closed, there was an immediate response, with the government posting online material for primary and secondary-level education to continue.

It is too early to tell if these things work or are working, but I see the effort.

The Heads of State in the region, brought together a team, the Committee on Governance of West Indies Cricket, commissioned a report for the running of West Indies Cricket because they had said the organization, then called the West Indies Cricket Board, had fallen away badly.

The Heads of State need to now be putting their heads together to, again, ensure the survival of West Indies Cricket, they too have been silent.

Once as a young man, I faced a gunman and I had every opportunity to make good my escape, but at the time, I had never been faced with my own mortality before and I froze.

That is not likely to happen again, because having faced my mortality, I am less afraid today.

The same should be true of West Indies Cricket and its leaders. I can understand it freezing out of fear after its calamitous free-fall over the last 25 years, but now, having begun to arrest the slide, we must be bold.

Here’s one of my ideas.

Why don’t we agree to pick a country yet to be impacted or significantly impacted by the Coronavirus, have each territory pick teams, bring those teams to that island, quarantine them for 14 days, while doing the requisite Testing, put them up in a sterile location, hotels don’t have guests these days with all the lockdowns, arrange transportation to and from a venue already made sterile, do the same with a broadcaster (say SportsMax as a shameless plug), and sell the rights to a tournament?

There is no other cricket being played anywhere, so I doubt you’ll have a problem selling the only live content out there.

Like I said, could be a bad idea and maybe I’m not taking into consideration enough variables.

However, I believe sitting on your hands during this time is worse.

Usain Bolt donated J$500,000 (approximately USD$3500) to the Jamaica-Together-We-Stand telethon that raised funds to help fight the spread of COVID-19.

The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) is feeling a sense of relief after the announcement that Reggae Girlz goalkeeper, Nicole McClure has recovered from COVID-19.

McClure, who is with her mother in the United States, told Radio Jamaica Sports, she had been fully recovered over the last two weeks.

The 30-year-old McClure plays for Northern Irish club, Sion Swifts, but is most fondly remembered in her country for pulling off two penalty saves in the CONCACAF final round World Cup qualifiers against … , helping to secure a spot in France last Summer.

McClure got sick after being in close contact with her mother, who likely contracted it from her job.

McClure’s mother is one of the many brave health workers in the United States on the front lines of the battle to contain COVID-19 and save as many lives as possible.

To date there have been more than 1.7 million cases of the Coronavirus worldwide with almost 109 thousand deaths.

The epicentre of the disease is by far and away, the United States where there are more than half a million cases and more than 20,000 deaths.

New York has the highest numbers of instances of the virus with 181,144 cases confirms and well over eight thousand deaths.

I’ve complained bitterly about the need for sports administrators to stop trying to get sports re-started as quickly as possible for fear that any such act, done too quickly, will lend itself to endangering the athletes and those they love.

I thought that administrators had been looking at it all wrong. In delaying decisions to postpone or cancel an event, they have forced athletes to continue training for that event. The fact that they must continue to train puts the athlete at risk of contracting COVID-19.

That line of argument went out the window when two French scientists promoted the idea that the testing ground for a new Coronavirus vaccine be Africa.

I was incensed.

But after the initial annoyance had worn off, I made a link between the restart of sport and the continued smashing of long-held, dangerous, perceptions.

Sport has been one of the foremost grounds for tackling injustice and inequality that this world has seen.

It is most often in the sporting arena where your background, your history, your political ideologies, count for the least.

Over many decades, sport has systematically attempted to become a place where the idea of a meritocracy is most real.

It isn’t real in life because the power has always been in the hands of a very few and they wield it with unerring indifference to anything that does not serve their purpose.

Over time, the athlete has come to the bargaining table by making it clear that without him or her, there is nothing. No fans, no money, nothing.

The latest arena where this battle has been fought is in that of gender equality, where women have stood up to say “hang on a minute, why am I not paid like the men, why is my contribution paid scant regard?”

And they have a point.

But even if they didn’t, the fact that without them, the entire thing collapses, means they have to be heard.

The same thing rings true of attempts to stamp racism from sport. The athlete, of whatever race, has wielded his power to say, “we will not play under unequal circumstances. We will not play when there is prejudice, in whatever form.”

Those realisations have led me to reconsider the idea that sports administrators shouldn’t be trying to restart sports as quickly as they are.

They should.

Sport is more than just a test of physical and mental superiority over an opponent. It is a litmus test for society. It shows society the direction it should be going in and to boot, it has the kind of unifying impact, seldom seen by any other endeavour.

For that reason, let’s get our ‘heroes’, for that is what the modern-day sportsperson has become, stand on the frontlines of a return to normalcy in the face of arguably, the most debilitating challenge faced by mankind in the 21st century.

Now the sportsperson must stand in the face of COVID-19 and say, “you have changed our world, but we’ll be damned if you stop us from trying to make it a better place.”

I remember reading or watching, I can’t remember which, ‘Fire in Babylon’, a depiction on the rise of West Indies cricket in the 1980s. More important to me than the details of how they did it and the massiveness of the achievement, relative to every sporting achievement ever had by a team, was the reason they did it.

The West Indians at the time wanted to show a couple of things. They wanted to prove they were every bit as good as their counterparts the world over, and they wanted to show the Caribbean how powerful it could be if they were unified. 

Those reasons made their achievements over the course of a decade and a bit, much bigger than sport.

Jackie Robinson becoming the first black Major League player was more than sport. His achievements in Major League Baseball had very little to do with the league or the sport, it was about destroying negative perceptions about the black man.

And so, I hope sport restarts quickly and tells these scientists willing to use a particular set of people as guinea pigs, where to shove it.

Jamaican female sprint prodigy Kevona Davis says world-renowned coach Stephen Francis would be good for her development as she gets closer to a decision on where she will start her senior career.

Isolation units and Coronavirus checkpoints at cricket grounds could see the West Indies still making the trip to that country for closed-door games.

The West Indies were scheduled to start a three-Test duel with England at T/he Oval, Edgbaston, and Lord’s on June 4 until the rapid spread of COVID-19 across Europe threatened to derail those plans.

The ECB and Cricket West Indies have been trying to come up with solutions to keep what is expected to be a lucrative series alive.

According to reports, the ECB is stepping up plans to resume cricket in June, but with no spectators, but that broadcasting would still go ahead since that was safer and that is where the majority of money to be earned from the series would be in any case.

The approach, ECB Director of Special Projects, Steve Elworthy, explained that any approach involving re-starting cricket in England would mean creating a sterile environment, safe for players and staff.

The hosts of the various big events in the world of sports have been missing the point over and over for the last three months, much like many governments have.

The COVID-19 Pandemic has inch by inch, ground sports to a halt all over the world and looming events have had to be either cancelled or postponed as it becomes clear that the word ‘pandemic’ is as horrifying as it sounds and the world won’t get over this issue in a few weeks or months as administrators seem to feel.

But even more important than that, these administrators seem to feel that whether or not an event can go on, depends on the environment at the event.

But I suggest there is more to it than that.

The Olympics, for instance, in Tokyo, Japan, seemed to hinge on whether or not the island could get its COVID-19 problems under control before the rest of the world would travel to the event.

When it became clear that this would not be the case, the event was postponed.

However, up until that time, even as preparatory events for the Olympics were being cancelled and/or postponed all over the world, the International Olympic Committee had been asking athletes to prepare as if there would still be an event in July of 2020.

That, I believe, was unfortunate, because it meant, even without travelling to meets all over the world, training was putting athletes at risk of contracting the virus.

The danger of picking up the virus becomes even more acute when you consider team sports and how much contact it takes to get one working in unison and performing at a high level.

For that to happen, there needs to be a combination of technical staff, trainers, teammates, and much more. That will up the chances of contracting a virus and therefore it doesn’t matter what is happening at whichever venue in the world, the athletes are at risk.

I am acutely aware that much planning goes into putting on a large event like the Olympics or the UEFA Champions League, and that there is a lot of money riding on the event going ahead as planned.

These considerations, I believe, make decisions grey and not as completely black and white like it might from the outside, however, sports and entertainment being the last to get on board with social distancing was, in my mind, slightly callous.

But that’s just in my mind. These organisers may well have foreseen the financial fallout for the athletes themselves and wanted to save them, for as long as they could, from months without earning in some cases.

Whichever way you see it, the truth is COVID-19 is likely to bankrupt far more people than it kills.

Many of the reports on COVID-19 have also indicated that it hurts people with underlying conditions and the elderly, so the athlete with his fitness at the peak of their value, along with usually being under 40, is not in any real danger.

But how about the person the athletes give it to? And, as was the case of 21-year-old Spanish coach, Francisco Garcia, who knows who has an underlying condition that this virus may attack?

Garcia, a coach at Atletico Portada Alta, found out he had undiagnosed Leukemia, after being admitted to hospital with coronavirus symptoms. By then, it was too late.

How I see it is that people and countries can recover from going broke. It happens all the time.

I’ve never seen anybody recover from being dead.

Cricket West Indies and the England Cricket Board are entertaining the idea of having a series between the two, scheduled for June, behind closed doors.

Hopefully, they think better of it in short order.

Barbadian Olympic Pearson Jordan has died on Saturday, March 28, after being infected by the coronavirus COVID-19.

Jamaican international Shamar Nicholson paints a frustrated image from his home in the Belgian city of Charleroi.

Nicholson, a former Boys’ Town footballer, transferred from the Red Stripe Premier League and now plies his trade in Belgium’s Jupiter League.

Charleroi, for whom he plays, are currently third in the league but its suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic has left him in a difficult place.

“[…] it’s a difficult situation as it’s not vacation time and I’m not used to not playing football now in season time, it feels so weird,” said Nicholson in an interview with Jamaican newspaper, The Gleaner.

The 23-year-old is keeping in shape while the league is suspended courtesy of a personal trainer and a programme the club has written for his daily exercise at home, but that is not enough.

“I’m in Charleroi and when you go out, you don’t see people outside, you hear no noise, nothing, it’s so weird. It has affected the whole country and, as we speak, it’s affecting the whole world and now it’s football season and there is no football, it’s just staying home and you get so tired of staying home, even though training is hard,” said Nicholson.

Nicholson had scored nine goals for Charleroi before the forced break, with just one player having scored more for his side.

There was just one game remaining in the regular season by the time COVID-19 fears put an end to football in Belgium, with Charleroi in third place, one point of a Champions League spot.

Nicholson wants the league to play that one remaining regular season game, even if there are no playoffs to come after.

“It would mean so much to me if the team should qualify automatically for the Champions League, it would mean a lot,” he said.

The man who has scored seven goals in 18 appearances for Jamaica believes that the re-start of all the leagues around the world will be tough because teams usually develop momentum along the way as the players become more match ready as the season progresses.

Because of the break, he says, there was no way of telling which teams would start quickly.   

COVID-19 is making the world a bigger place with travel lockdowns and the attendant difficulties with getting a proper picture of the situation, especially in regions like the Caribbean.

In fact, there are many Caribbean nationals either trying to get home or ensuring their loved ones keep safe at a time when a virus is threatening to cripple the world economy and kill many in the process.

CEEN News, a cable news network owned by SportsMax in Jamaica and shown in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, is helping to bridge the divide for millions of persons from the diaspora with CEEN Caribbean News at 8pm.

For those in the Caribbean who want to know what is happening, CEEN Caribbean News will be aired nightly on SportsMax as well.

"CEEN News is sharing the nightly news with our viewers on SportsMax to satisfy their need for information about how individual islands are battling this highly infectious disease," said George Davis, Executive Producer at SportsMax and CEEN.

"We believe in accurate, timely information and are committed to playing our part as the most-watched sports network in this part of the world," he said.

As has become par for the course, CEEN Caribbean News, provides nightly updates on the COVID-19 pandemic, paying specific attention to the region.

According to Davis, every night on CEEN is chock-full of information on the spread of the virus in the Caribbean, including reporting on new infections, treatment of existing cases and deaths in all the countries around the region.

Tonight, for instance, CEEN Caribbean goes global and intends to speak to a Jamaican living in Italy, a country which is almost in a neck and neck race with the United States as the epicenter of the virus.

For those who cannot watch on TV, they can watch on the app which is available in the Playstore or Appstore. Viewers in the diaspora can stream live at CEEN's website.

 

West Indies Limited overs captain Kieron Pollard is asking his players to, not just stay safe during the most worrying times in recent history with the massive spread of COVID-19, but is also telling them to be ready for when normalcy returns.

According to Pollard, while the spread of COVID-19 has brought sport around the world to a halt, there is an opportunity for West Indies players to improve.

“I think it is a good time for introspection, a good time for reflection, a good time to look at where you are as an individual, in your career and what you want to achieve going forward,” said the skipper, a man not known to mince words.

The West Indies have been sporadically producing good results under Pollard’s watch, but the big all-rounder has craved consistency, something he says will come with a better mental approach.

That approach, thanks to COVID-19, can be honed during this time off.

“[…] you have to take the time to do that and also to keep yourself in physical shape and mentally as well because when the bell rings and you hear ‘ok everything is back to normal and we need to go on tour,’ there might not be enough time to prepare so you, yourself as an individual have to be prepared mentally in order for you to try to perform at your best,” he said.

According to Pollard his public statements won’t count as new to the players.

“[…] guys have been notified as to where they need to be and the onus is on individuals to try and meet those requirements,” said Pollard.

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