Tue | May 23, 2017

Deep Pockets! - Hefty budgets tabled to secure champs crown

Published:Thursday | March 30, 2017 | 3:00 AMSyranno Baines

The pursuit of Boys and Girls'Athletics Championships supremacy is proving a more rigid task off the track as defending Girls' champions Edwin Allen High had to fork out approximately $1 million for six days of accommodation while their closest rivals, Hydel High, try daily to fund a hefty $4-$5 million Champs blueprint.

In stark contrast, Champs participants Ardenne High School, who registered 2.5 points and placed 40th on the Boys' side, and Campion College, who scored 10 points and a 21st-place finish among males last year, are, collectively, spending just more than $500,000 for the 107th staging of the championships.

"We have to provide secure accommodation for 88 girls and 20 boys, in addition to feeding them daily. Nutrition and accommodation take a considerable amount of finances, so the sponsors may need to look at ... providing subsidies to assist schools with accommodation for the championships, particularly rural-based schools," said Michael Dyke, head coach of Edwin Allen High girls' track and field team.

Though Dyke did not disclose the full budget for the Clarendon-based school, sources have put the all-inclusive figure upwards of $7 million for the heavy favourites.

Hydel High School, which began competing in 2010, has since positioned itself well in the pecking order and racked up quite a tab in the process.

Having amassed an impressive 263 points and first runner-up spot last year, Hydel is set to field 40 girls and five boys, and head coach Corey Bennett believes that adequate financing would strengthen the charge for the crown.

Said Bennett: "We have not procured a full-gear sponsor as yet, so between gear, nutrition, travelling, housing of athletes, paying of coaches, it's millions. If we think about it, we wouldn't bother entering, so we try not to think too hard about it."

He added: "There are few cases where we win some money at track meets and road races that will offset some costs, and FLOW gave us some funding in the past, and, of course Ms (Hyacinth) Bennett gives of her own resources."

Bennett is the school's founder and the coach's mother.

"We live day to day and hope that something will help us out and turn up for us."

... Champs not priority for some schools

Ardenne High School principal Nadine Molloy says that her school earmarked $6 million for sporting and co-curricular activities this year, but only a minuscule $250,000 was allocated to the Boys and Girls' Athletics Championships programme.

"They [Ardenne students] tend to lean more towards academics than the sporting programme," Molloy told The Gleaner yesterday.

"We have 28 athletes competing, and we don't do accommodation, so most of the money is nutrition, and, in rare cases, gear, as we usually get donations, so we didn't factor that in, in the past."

Campion College, renowned for its academic prowess, will be fielding 35 athletes at a cost of $300,000 - $400,000.

Head coach Phillpotts Brown said that it would be next to impossible for his troops to win the championships as it would require an extensive recruitment drive and millions to foot the bill.

Said Brown: "We're fortunate because we don't rent anywhere. You're not just talking about feeding and clothing students. The key thing is recruiting. To have any hope of winning Champs, you have to shop for athletes, and the traditional institutions have the financial support to do so."

He added: "Where we may be able to assemble an 11-man football team, Champs will require too much depth. We would have to change our philosophy, which is the building of a total human being - academic, social, spiritual, etc - and I wouldn't want to be a part of a system that only focuses on sports and winning."