GSA only managed two Tournaments before Pandemic hit Guyana
‘The biggest challenge was not being able to train’ – head of EAS David Fernandes
By Sean Devers
Kaieteur News – On January 28, 2020, the Guyana Squash Association (GSA) under the leadership of David Fernandes kicked off the year in a promising manner with the staging of the first BCQS Squash Masters Tournament in Guyana.
When the dust was settled Dennis Dias won Guyana over 65, Narendra Singh of Guyana over 55, Bajan Mark Sealy won the over 45s, and Shaun Simpson of Barbados won the over 35s, while he won Guyanese Lydia Frazer of the Department of Women over 35. BCQS Director Sanjay Amin lost to Singh (8-11, 11-5, 11-2, 11-9) in the over 55 final. Anyway, after staging the Bounty Farm Handicap tournament that ended Feb. 16, Guyana confirmed its first case of the coronavirus when a 52-year-old Guyanese woman traveling from New York died on March 5, on March 11, bringing a stop to all sports, including Squash, that month.
It’s been 10 months since no Squash tournament was played in Guyana, with the 83,000-square-mile South American Country bordering Suriname, Brazil and Venezuela, being locked down in March.
This was done to combat the spread of the deadly Covid-19 virus where the positive outbreak has now surpassed Spanish influenza, a pandemic that devastated the World back in 1920, the outbreak of Cholera that occurred a hundred years earlier and the Plague in 1720.
Only Cricket, Cycling, Athletics and Tennis (Lawn) have been given the green light to resume the competition. The Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) staged the T20 Over-40 Nationals last month, while the Inter-Association U-19 Demerara 50-over tournament ended last week on Saturday. Both Cricket tournaments were played without spectators and adhered to Covid-19 regulations set out by the World Health Organization, Ministry of Health and Covid-19 Task Force.
Cycling stalled last month with the Guyana Cycling Federation (GCF) running a series of time-tested events in the City, Berbice and Linden with the Cyclists lining six feet apart as they wait for their turn to start.
Athletics resumed last month with a South American Cross Country and 10-K run with no overseas Athletics, while Tennis received approval to resume last month with the GTA ‘Tennis Safe’ Tournament at Le Ressouvenir Tennis Court at the President’s residence GTA Samuel Barakat.
But because of the Pandemic, the GSA was only able to have two Tournaments before March and none since.
“We had for the first time a BCQS-sponsored International Masters Tournament held here in Guyana where we had representatives from across the Caribbean coming to play. Then we had the Bounty Farm handicap which was a great tournament.
The highlight of the year was Guyana 2020 BCQS International Masters where we had senior members of the Caribbean Squash Brotherhood come together to take part in a tournament of this size. It was well run and participants seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves, ”informed David Fernandes who was re-elected President of the Guyana Squash Association (GSA) on March 11, 2019.
“We were greatly affected by the Covid-19 Pandemic and once the Country was locked down in March we were unable to restart any Incident as we moved on from there.
The biggest challenge, not just for Squash but for all sports disciplines, has been missing out on any training since March, Fernandes noted.
Both facilities were closed for Squash due to the Covid-19 guidelines, which were rightly implemented by the Covid Task Force so we had no activity.
Both facilities remain closed and we have written to Georgetown Club and the Ministry of Sport and are also awaiting some guidance from the Covid Task Force to stage Events, ”Informed Fernandes.
“Probably the biggest disappointment for me was that the Guyana Junior Boys team was planning to take part in this year’s Am Am Junior Championships and they were training very well.
The team would have been led by Shomari Wilshire, then we’ve had Samuel Ince Carvahal, Mikey Alphonso and Nicholas Verwey been on the team.
I think they would have made us proud so that was my biggest disappointment. I think this year we would have been able to reclaim the Caribbean Junior Team title with the tournament due to be held in Bermuda, so those were my two biggest disappointments. I think we could have chosen to defend the Barbados Champions after finishing second for the last two years, ”said the GASA chief.
This year the GSA planned a crowded program but the Pandemic slammed them.
“We should have had the National Junior and Senior tournaments, the CASA Junior tournament in Bermuda, the CASA Senior tournament in Jamaica; we had plans to attend the Pan Am Junior Games in Uruguay. We also planned for our senior players who were going to Poland for the World Masters Tournament, we had younger players going to the US and Canadian Open Championships.
So it was disappointing that we were never given the opportunity to participate in these tournaments. However, we have to look on the bright side and all the members of our fraternity are healthy because we are grateful, ”noted the active Fernandes who was first elected head of GSA in February 2013 when he took over from Andrew Arjoon .
“We are using the WSF guidelines as well as looking at other Caribbean guides and how they got started and the protocols they have in place and so we would use those rules to manage our facilities and protect our players if we get the green light. to fully restart our programs. In the Caribbean, only two States… Guyana and Jamaica… have not restarted their programs, ”continued Fernandes.
“For this year we still have hopes for the World Masters to be staged. In 2021 we have about 10 Events, at least six of which are local … In terms of Caribbean Championships, Barbados will now be the host for Junior CASA perhaps at the end of July, while the Senior CASA is stable on for November. Both of these championships have been held back to give us the best chance of hosting these tournaments.
One of the big problems with these tournaments is that, if there is a five-day quarantine period before the Event, it will mean that teams will have five extra days of accommodation and meals at their own expense in addition to seven days per day Competition which will make it difficult for these competitions to be held.
If we get to a point where the Vaccines are working well and Covid’s position changes positively during the first half of the year, we could easily see these Events happening. Locally, once we have approval to host tournaments then social isolation protocols and with the non-venue players, then tournaments could be held, ”added Fernandes.
“On behalf of the Guyana Squash Association we would like to thank the players and their parents for their patience in combating this. We know it’s been challenging and everyone wants to get back on Court but as realistically Covid’s situation has not improved, in fact it has got worse so we have to be realistic in our hopes that things will return to normal soon, ”a businessman warned.
Fernandes also thanked the Media for its support over the year and the sponsors who have also supported the GSA and the Minister for Culture, Youth and Sport Charles Ramson who has held several favorable discussions with the GSA.
Fernandes hoped the two entities can continue to work together and also thanked the GOA for its support and concluded by saying that he hoped that 2021 could see a slight improvement in our continue one of the sports that help keep children grounded, focused, fit, healthy and striving to be the best they can be.