Rose-Esperance calls for creative ways to get youngsters back in sports

Western News

Rose-Esperance calls for creative ways to get youngsters back in sports

Observer West writer

Thursday, November 19, 2020

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SAVANNA-La-MAR, Westmoreland -Sports psychologist Dr Olivia Rose-Esperance is urging stakeholders to be creative and innovative in figuring out ways to get young athletes back into the zone of sports.

She argued that sports is an essential tool for youth development due to the myriad of benefits that can be derived from it.

“It is important in developing certain life skills such as meeting deadlines, goal settings, coping with losses, building esteem, discipline, just to name a few,” said Dr Rose-Esperance, adding that “it also keeps them physically healthy.”

Rose- Esperance, who is the sports director and founder of OnR Sports Consultancy, argued however, that while the absence of sports has its negative impacts,“it is not doomsday.”

“We are wired to be innovative...there are different ways to keep your child active,” she stated, adding that there is a plethora of virtual activities that can be done in home training sessions.

That aside, the sports psychologist added that a lot is already absent from the lives of youths, and “safe ways must be found to return to play.”

She argued that while some adults are still able to go out to work, the children are stuck at home as they are not going to school, adding that their extra-curricular activities have also been taken.

“We as the adults and caregivers have a responsibility to ensure as best as possible the holistic development of children, especially through sports, given the many benefits it provides. We need to be creative to ensure that we do not rob the children of their development statuses. It is a viable alternative and a safer alternative than the gang alternative, which many may turn to if they do not have other distractions,” she told the Jamaica Observer West.

Dr Rose-Esperance was responding to suggestions that the mental and physical health of a number of youngsters across western Jamaica is being adversely impacted by the absence of sports due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

There have been no competitive sporting leagues since March this year shortly after the first case of the virus was discovered on the island.

Sporting events, as well as face-to-face classes were suspended, as part of efforts by the Government to slow the spread of the disease.

Rhondane Ashman, an 18-year-old basketball player from Falmouth, Trelawny, told the Observer West that he is worried that he will never become a professional basketball player.

Ashman, who just completed a five- year tenure at the William Knibb High School, said, “My plan was to go to sixth form and from there get a scholarship to go on to college.”

“ I wanted to attend Northern Caribbean University (NCU) because they have a good basketball programme,” he said.

Ashman stated that his family, instead, made the decision to have him enrolled in University College of the Caribbean, which is considered to be the better option in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He expressed, however, that his greatest fear is that “I will be too unfit to resume playing competitively and my age may hinder me from getting any further opportunities,” adding that “I feel hopeless, if there are no leagues I won't be able to show off my talent and get opportunities.”

Ashman played basketball for William Knibb High School for four of the five years that he attended the Trelawny-based school.

There he was awarded medals on numerous occasions for being the Most Valuable Player (MVP), Top Rebounder and Most Assists.

Grade 6 student at the Little London Primary School in Westmoreland, Raheim Smalling, who participated in several extra-curricular activities at his school, including football, athletics, speech and drama, is also badly affected by the pandemic.

As an asthmatic, Smalling is prevented from leaving his house.

“Him miserable because him usually have a lot of things to do, but now I have him locked up in the house. Even when he goes out to play, it's him alone. But mi can't take the risk of inviting his friends over. Mi nuh know if they have been exposed [to the coronavirus], so it is really depressing to have him like this,” said Sabrina Jones, Smalling's mother.

She added that since the pandemic, her son has had an increase in asthmatic attacks, and has to be nebulized more often than before March.

“Mi think being active help him asthma. Because him never usually have so much attacks while playing,” Jones stressed.

Smalling has played in over six football leagues since he began playing at the age of six. He has received awards for leading goal scorer for his football teams on several occasions.

In athletics he had copped the title of Champion Boy for his school, where he is also a prefect. With him being less active, his mother believes he and his teammates will have to relearn their skills when competitive football resumes.

Other players like 14-year-old Emmanuel Wilkins, a student at Belmont Academy, also in Westmoreland, have resorted to exercising at home to keep active.

Wilkins explained, however, that it gets hard at times to be by himself.

“I cannot get to play with my teammates that I always play with and I cannot see my coaches to talk to them face-to-face and I am not able to play matches,” he complained.

Manning's School student, 12- year-old Zachry Clarke, said the absence of football is affecting him badly.

“I am not getting to exercise my muscles and I am not having the amount of fun that I used to have,” he said.

He stated, however, that he has resorted to playing a lot of online games.

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