- Dick urges National Federations to unite & improve policies
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected the world throughout without discretion and has brought sports to a standstill. While in certain parts of the world professional football and motorsports have resumed behind closed doors and under specific conditions, it is unclear when it would be safe for sports in Guyana to make a return.
However, despite this uncertainty, Guyana’s leading table tennis institution, the Titans Table Tennis Club is remaining proactive in its plans for the future. Known for their almost factory-like production of top junior athletes, The Titans family has been putting their time during lockdown to good use.
In an exclusive interview, Titans’ President and Head Coach Dwain Dick, told The 592 Dugout that the younger athletes have been given a much needed break.
Dick opined; “I think the uncertainty of our return to normalcy is the biggest concern. Sports have been a big part of our lives as coaches, players, and even parents, thus, the pandemic has forced us to alter our schedules and our lives to some extent. It’s challenging, but we are all trying to cope, by focusing and prioritizing our areas that were somewhat a bit neglected because of table tennis. The younger athletes now have more time to rest and place emphasis on academics”.
Despite there not being any guidance from the relevant sports authorities, the Titans administration has been busy looking ahead to when it is finally safe to resume operations.
To this end, Dick revealed; “We are presently drafting a set of safety protocols for the return of our senior (adult) and elite junior players as a trial. This would include temperature tests, wearing of masks, playing areas limited to only coaches and specific number of players, handling of equipment and a few other things that would have to be adhered to”.
Looking at the impact of the lockdown and it’s ripple effects, both negative and positive, the outspoken Titans President explained; “Our full time coaches were forced more or less to take up part time employment outside of sports so we are all trying to adjust. It is taking a financial toll on us as we still would have had some overheads but we are trying to cushion those expenses through our academic arm, the TTTC Virtual Learning Academy”.
He further revealed; “It’s an online platform where we offer students, student/athletes, and adults tutoring in subjects that propel them towards careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)”.
He continued; “Since the inception of Titans I was offering CSEC Mathematics to club members with phenomenal success. It is just that this period has given us the opportunity to think and plan ahead a bit more seriously or in other terms, has forced us to consider opportunities in the present”.
Quizzed about plans for when the club can finally resume their operations, Dick revealed; “There are no immediate plans for tournaments but we are in the process of drafting our elite junior program, which hopefully we will be able to implement. It’s a junior program that will see us moving away from the recreational aspect into the professional (elite) realm”.
Dick who was a former national player appealed to everyone to be; “more responsible and cautious. As we put ourselves at risk, we also put others at risk too”.
In closing he encouraged the various national federations to; “Collaborate whether it’s virtually and use this period to strengthen and improve their policies etc, so that when sports resumes we can see them operating at the highest standards. They can use this time to communicate their vision and become more efficient and effective, as well as see ways how to improve athletes performances and how best to support athletes”.
“To the parents, emotional support provides the biggest benefits to young athletes, so continue to be that support. To my fellow coaches, adapt, and find ways to stay relevant. This time will pass”.
Dick further urged; “To the players, stay positive, there will be more chances and opportunities in the future. To become a great athlete it requires tremendous amounts of dedication, discipline, desire and effort. Stand up and face the present challenges. Stay positive, remember it’s not about a one time trip, it’s about self development, being the best that you can be”.