National player loses job after returning home
WHILE most of the Barbados team competing at the ongoing 13th Caribbean Volleyball Championships in Paramaribo, Suriname, will be checking with family and friends back home to hear what the local media are saying about their performances, one player, Julia Lewis, will be asking her contacts to check out the wanted ads for any job vacancies. That is because the 32-year-old experienced all-round player received a termination slip from her employers, Zephirins, when she returned to work on July 26, two days after returning from the CAC Games. Lewis’ dismissal was exposed on national television on Monday night on CBC’s Thornhill Talks Sports with a caller asking Barbados Olympic Association president Steve Stoute to get Government to put things in place to protect national athletes who were being penalised for going off to represent their country.
Stoute said he was making attempts to contact Lewis’ boss to try to amicably resolve the situation. Ironically, Lewis had gotten permission to use some of her vacation in July to pursue an FIVB International Level I Coaches Course at the Regional Volleyball Development Centre. When MIDWEEK SPORT contacted Lewis in Suriname, she expressed surprise that her dismissal had become public since she was privately trying to sort out the matter and that was why not even her teammates or management were aware that she was fired.“I have been fired before because of my involvement with sports and I have also been released from one company because I went to join a union,” the six-foot attacker Lewis said.
Lewis, who has won Carifta track and field silver and bronze medals for Barbados before joining the Barbados senior volleyball team in 1998, was incensed over her treatment which she hinted had resulted from a number of other issues but which were never stated when she was released just a few days before Grand Kadooment. “I believe that Government has to put something in place to protect us as we go off to fight hard for our country to return to face situations like these,” she said. “I have a seven year old daughter, Taquilla Lawrence who attends Good Shepherd Primary School and who will be entering class one next term.
“It will be all well and good to tell her about how well we are playing but what will I tell her about her needed uniforms and books for the new term?” Lewis asked. Lewis, who represents champion club Deacons, captured the MVP title at the World Championship Qualifier which was held in Barbados last year. When contacted, Lewis’ former boss at the Zephirins outlet at Busby’s Alley in The City, Asaph Moore, said that he had no comment to make on the full circumstances surrounding Lewis’ dismissal but he was adamant that it had nothing to do with the fact that she was away on national duty. “I hired Lewis knowing full well that she was a national athlete and I sat with her to work out her schedule so that she could go off and represent her country,” Moore said.
“I had no problems with Lewis going off with the national team and provisions were also made to accommodate her with her practice schedules. “Lewis informed us of her national engagements for the year which were originally two and we had no problems when that number increased to three; we just made the necessary adjustments.”(KB)