I look forward to listening to the ZBVI Sports Show on Saturday afternoons around 6 p.m. It is informative and usually very humorous. Sometimes it’s so funny that they crack me up and leave my sides aching from laughing! However, I take particular note of the areas the hosts and guests point out as the greatest sports needs of this territory. On their most recent show they lamented the lack of sports records, and as a result, they could hardly remember the names of people who have contributed so much to the discipline. And what a pity that is! Because of the loss of records, they are not able to honour deserving people in any memorable way.
I am not an active sports person myself, but I was once quite good at net ball and track and field. And I love cricket! During the 1950s my father, Carris Penn, was team captain of cricket in the East End/Long Look area, and in later years my uncle Obel Penn had his turn. They managed league tournaments and arranged matches. When there were visiting teams, my mother made the sandwiches and I basketed them down from East End to the Greenland Field on my own two feet! I remember some names of cricketers too.
Perhaps people in each village could research their village cricketers or other sports and document their findings, not only for the Sports Show but for posterity. That is a doable exercise and would be a really good start!
There is a national lack of knowledge of the importance of records, beginning with many secretaries and executives of some local bodies. The minutes and papers of all local organisations should be turned over to the National Archives after a given period. It would then be the responsibility of the national archivist to preserve those records for posterity, so that they are always accessible for reference. Where is the National Archives repository? What is the status of the Archives and Records Management Act?
The Sports Show hosts pointed out the need for some designated place or places where statues, pictures and plaques of eligible athletes and other contributors could be mounted, with accompanying background history of each. The Cyril B. Romney Tortola Pier Park, the A.O. Shirley Recreation Grounds, and even street corners were named as places where such memorabilia could be mounted.
To its credit, Santo Domingo is the only place I’ve visited to date where there is a museum on almost every street corner, but that is in the Colonial Quarters.
In the absence of a museum on every street corner to facilitate each discipline, a general national museum here in the Virgins Islands would facilitate some sports memorabilia, and a national library would certainly see to the recording of publications that organisations put out. There is a clause in the Public Library Act that makes the library a “legal depository” of all VI publications. That means whenever a book, pamphlet, leaflet or record in any form whatsoever is published in the VI, a copy should be deposited with the Public Library within a given number of days after it has been published. We do not know how much of that has been or is happening.
A national library would also have space and expertise to mount permanent and seasonal exhibitions honouring sports persons and persons of other disciplines, thereby educating the public and showcasing our history and culture to visitors as well. But where is the library? And the staff?
Come on, Virgin Islanders, it is time to stop putting our heads in sand, but instead, own up and face up to some of the very fundamental and basic lacks and needs of this territory, and do the right and honourable thing.