observations of Trinidad and Tobago coach, Grace Parkinson-Griffith,
regarding her team’s inability to stand-up physically to its opponents
during the recent World Netball Championship in New Zealand, served
to highlight both a developmental and a cultural problem.
to Parkinson-Griffith, net ball has become an increasingly physical
discipline, one in which brawn has become almost as important as ability.
It is against this background that she commented on the relatively small
stature of her players, and the ease with which they were out muscled
in one on one situations during the competition.
fact one player, Lystra Zamore, was forced to miss two consecutive games
with a shoulder injury, after being bowled over by her bigger marker
during the meeting with Northern Ireland. Such incidents have moved
the coach to confirm that weight training will now be a part of the
team’s physical preparations in the future.
above simply represents another reason as to why this country is beginning
to flounder in a sporting world that is becoming increasingly professional.
We are beginning to pay the price for our repeated failures to institute
adequate sports development programs – a by-product of which is weight
highly competitive nature of sport in places such as North America,
Europe and Australia has led to a growing demand for proper physical
conditioning. Football is a faster game than it was before. Basketball
is much more intense. Tennis more demanding. Today's athletes need to
be fitter, faster and stronger than those in past generations.
and highly technological methods of physical preparation have created
some obvious differences. First of all, it has been noticeable that
athletes are actually bigger now than before. For instance, if one was
to look at NBA basketball footage from last season (1998-99) and compare
it to footage from, let's say, 1981, one of the first noticeable things
is how much slimmer the players from back then appear. Today, the average
professional basketball player is a neatly chiselled physical specimen:
capable of holding off opponents in going for rebounds and loose passes.
modern athlete is also faster than ever before. Even if one was capable
of removing the stigma of performance enhancing drugs, it cannot be
denied that today's top sprinters will still be clocking quicker times
than those from twenty years ago.
such modern means have not yet become institutionalized here in Trinidad
Tobago. While there seems to be a steady improvement in training, there
is still a dearth of the high level physical preparation techniques
that the more established sporting nations are already taking for granted.
this is not the only thing that is lacking. In the other regions, particularly
there is a solid foundation for these methods, manifested in the excellent
physical education program that forms part of the school curriculums.
Such programs are one of main reasons behind the athleticism exhibited
by many top sportsmen and women from the United States. One only has
observe the agility of the players on the world champion U.S. women's
soccer team and compare them to their counterparts in Trinidad and Tobago.
we been putting sufficient emphasis on physical education in schools?
on my experience, probably not. While there were some teachers at my
secondary school who “didn't make joke,” and would really put their
students through a strenuous exercise regimen, there were others who
were content to let us do whatever we wanted. Thus, some of us would
go and play football, others went to play basketball and a handful played
either tennis or badminton.
the years, I haven't heard anything to suggest that the situation is
much different at other secondary schools: some of which do not even
have adequate facilities and may even lack the teaching resources. Also,
one may want to ask how highly do we prize physical education in schools.
Does the Ministry of Education have any clear guidelines regarding physical
education? Is physical education seen as something important, or is
it just a recreational diversion for the students?
will be interesting to see where the school administration stands on
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