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New meet chiefs rise to occasion

Ezra Stuart

New meet chiefs rise to occasion

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DAVE?SMALL?is the Barbados Under-20 football team manager and Andrew Brathwaite coaches the national senior women’s volleyball team.
But they joined forces to oversee the smooth running of this year’s PowerAde Barbados Secondary Schools Athletic Championships (BSSAC)?which ended at the National Stadium last Friday.
Small took over as meet director from the long-serving David Oxley while Brathwaite was promoted to assistant meet director.
“I think the last two days went exceptionally well. We didn’t have any major problems.
“We ran to time, we caught up time where necessary and as far as the equipment technology was concerned, everything was on par,” Small told MIDWEEK?SPORT?in an interview after the five-day meet ended.
“The first three days we did have a few glitches but between Mr Brathwaite and myself, we would’ve made some on-the-spot decisions which would allow the meet to continue as close to time as possible,” he said.
Small, a former CARIFTA?Games athlete, acknowledged that while a post-mortem is yet to be carried out of the championships, there are some areas which can be strengthened.
“The best journey could be planned but you could always find glitches, so we would try to look at what were some of the low points or downfalls and we would try to improve on that,” Small said.
“Where we need to tweak, we would tweak, because BSSAC is like a template. So it is a matter of filling in the gaps where there are and making sure that all those things that can happen, that we could find contingency plans for,” he said.
“All in all, I thought we had an exceptional meet and from this position for the first time, I am more than pleased and I think that we can say kudos to all who put their hands to the plough,” he added.
Brathwaite said that unknown to many, he had been a track and field official for almost as long as he had been involved in volleyball.
“I worked BSSAC for the last 20 years. I have also travelled the region, officiating at CARIFTA. I have officiated at Junior Pan Am [American], Junior CAC [Central American and Caribbean] Games when they were held in Barbados. I trained officials in Turks and Caicos when they had CARIFTA a few years ago, so I have been involved in this for quite some time,” Brathwaite noted.
“The organisational skills that I have been able to use and develop in volleyball have served me well here because, this meet, I think is more so about managing people than it is so much so about the track and field itself,” he said.
“It is an event and an event has to be staged in the appropriate manner. The technical officials that were included in the meet, especially those who served as chiefs of particular events, and also the referees, would’ve brought the ideal experience relative to the technical expertise.”
Brathwaite said managing the meet proved to be relatively easy because he had been involved for quite some time in other areas.
“It was just a smooth transition from running the call room, for example, which I think is the heartbeat of the meet, to just overseeing, maybe a few more areas in the assistant meet director position,” he said.
Small revealed that he wasn’t only giving instructions but also assisting at take-over points during the relays.
“I actually worked one of the relay take-overs and I could say for Mr. Brathwaite and me, we did not sit back and allow things to happen. We were a working team. We were out there in the field working also.
“We didn’t say we are meet director and assistant director and we are delegating. We were out there, hands to the plough like everybody else,” Small said.
Small also touched about the record number of disqualifications for faulty baton exchanges during the relays with as many as 25 occuring on the third day of the meet.
“From my position where I was, a lot of the hand-offs [take-overs], you would see disqualifications for people receiving the baton before the zone and that to me says that some of the athletes were not schooled properly because in actual fact, you should be disqualified for probably receiving the baton outside the zone and not before the zone,” Small stressed.
“If you recognise that in the finals there were hardly any disqualifications, so properly those schools who were schooled properly, who practised, who would’ve gone through the rigours to make sure that they do the right things were not disqualified,” he noted.
While Brathwaite feels that there is a general need for improvement with regard to the quality of the technical officials, he still lauded their performances this year.
“We made a huge effort this year to be a little bit better . . . I think because the officials paid a bit more attention to what they were doing, that they were a bit more vigilant with regards those disqualifications in the 4x100s,” he said.     
Small, however, concedes the use of video would be the perfect answer to the whole disqualification relay take-over situation.
“However, the IAAF gives you the option here in the event that there is no video that the ruling of the judge would be what is accepted,” he said.
“We have tried to get video because I know that in the 4×1-relay, take-over is a bugbear and that is something I definitely would like to improve on,” he said.
“I believe we got closer this year than before because we did do some schooling with some of the officials, but in future, we have a whole year, if that is possible, to source someone who can give us video.
“That would be perfect, but right now we have to use what we have and according to the IAAF, what we are doing is also acceptable,” he said.