Western Cape Gymnastics are slowly but surely making their way back to a semblance of normality after the sport recently received the green light from the Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture for a reopening of clubs and gymnasiums.
Melvin Edwards, president of Western Cape Gymnastics, says coaches and gymnasts are glad to be able to practice again after an absence of approximately four months due to the lockdown that was enforced as a result of the Coronavirus.
His federation represents 164 registered clubs and is a member of the Western Cape Provincial Sport Confederation (WCPSC). The lockdown hit gymnastics hard, with five clubs closing down their doors due to financial constraints.
Now WC Gymnastics are busy designing and redesigning their competition structures for their various disciplines. Melvin explained that in certain disciplines cross contamination and human contact is zero, for instance in rope skipping you use your own rope and you never touch any apparatus.
But if you take part in a discipline like artistic gymnastics where the gymnast has to share the bar and the beam etcetera, different protocols need to be in place. So, they are currently busy putting all those protocols in place and just trying to design a competition protocol so that it can be safe for everybody and there is minimum exposure and minimum possibility of contagion.
The president said it was a work in progress and they are looking at as many things and options as possible.
We have looked at our calendar and we have decided that should we have any competitions our competitions would all be moved to the fourth term, which will be the latter part of October going into November and as late as December for nationals, he continued.
We have some challenges with regard to some of our gymnasts who need to qualify for world events. Some of our gymnasts have come off age and they can also qualify for the Olympic Games, so there are certain things we need to look at. But like I said, our competitions will be scheduled for the latter part of October going into November.
Melvin said the loss of income was severe. The non-hosting of events at district and provincial level, the postponement or cancellation of district, inter-district and provincial trials, the interprovincial competitions and the Western Cape Championships as well as the zone festivals and club’s interclub competitions hit the pockets hard.
But fortunately, they had sufficient funding to keep them going during those tough times. He explained: We also made a plan from the national federation side, as they made some money available and during lockdown we could assist some clubs via the lockdown relief fund. We could give some of our clubs some money just to help them pay their overheads and assist with whatever they needed to stay afloat.
Melvin painted a positive picture of the gymnastics landscape and said it was important that people know their coaches are competent. We are happy as a national federation and a provincial federation that our clubs are safe, that all of our coaches have gone through the training and have received their certificates.
We are happy to say that from the paperwork we have received and the video feedback we have received all our clubs are compliant and doing their best to stick to the policies. We ask our parents to be patient with the clubs, we ask our parents to support the local clubs and we think of those codes who are still waiting for answers.
As gymnastics we have worked very hard with other codes like tennis and golf during the lockdown, engaging with each other, assisting each other on policies and what needs to be done, what needs to be included in a policy, what needs to be excluded, what protocols needed to be followed and so forth.
We want to say to our peers and the various federations, hang in there, and try your best to stay active, stay in contact with your members, try to stay in contact with your clubs and coaches, try and keep them positive. There most definitely will be sports after Covid-19. I want to wish everybody luck in their endeavours and with their applications.