FOLLOWING the cancellation of the national stick fighting competition for 2020, players are being told to form themselves into an organisation to properly represent their craft if they want to keep this tradition alive.
The advice comes from Joseph Adams who was given the responsibility by the National Carnival Commission (NCC) to take charge of the 2020 competition.
The competition was aborted after a stand-off between the NCC and the stick fighters at the semi final rounds in Arima two Friday’s ago.
Ian Brown, manager of Newton Boys’ Gayelle, explained then that the stick fighters took a stand over non-payment of fees for the preliminary leg as well as insurance coverage issues. He said fighters were unaware of the purse they were fighting for and the kind of coverage they signed for.
Newton said fighters risked their lives each time they entered the gayelle and did not want to risk their lives for free.
NCC chairman Winston “Gypsy” Peters said all was done to ensure the stick fighters were taken care off but felt the timing of the protest action was an attempt to hold the NCC to ransom.
A decision was subsequently taken to cancel the NCC-run competition for Carnival 2020.
Several other privately run competitions have been held since, including one organised by Big B promotions at the St Mary’s Basketball Court, Moruga.
Brown has called for a meeting with the NCC to discuss payment and insurance coverage before the next competition.
Peters has agreed to meet after Carnival but he intends to discuss whether the NCC will continue to be involved in this aspect of the culture.
Speaking to the Newsday on Friday, Adams said while stick fighting is one of the cultural activities associated with Carnival, it is not as prominent as the other art forms.
“Everyone has formed themselves into organisations to signify their importance and negotiate with the NCC. Mas has done that. The pan fraternity has done that. The calypso fraternity has also done that," said Adams, a calypsonian who sings with Kaiso Showkase tent.
“I have not seen anyone coming forward as part of an organisation as far as the stick fighting community is concerned. If they are serious about the art form being a cultural activity on the Carnival calendar and want to keep it alive, then they have to make their presence felt,"Adams said.
Stick fighters are usually represented by the communities to which they belong.