Fri | Sep 22, 2017

Mentorship programmes

Published:Tuesday | March 3, 2015 | 3:00 AM

Late in 1987 at a Manning Cup football game at Sabina Park, this columnist was cornered by a then budding politician.

Of the action on the field, not much can be recalled, save to say that it featured Kingston College and St Mary's High from Above Rocks.

There were two Venturas in the Park, one bustling in an attacking role - no need to mention school - and the other equally animated, remembering his thunderous kicks on the run in the late 50s and willing the eldest of his three sporting sons to emulate.

The fact that young 'Brecia' did not blossom is told by the national level - albeit in cricket attained by those in line, Valentino and Mario.

But this is not the main focus this week.

The politician's agenda was clear and upfront.

He was seeking support for one of the many talented female constituents, whose progress in track and field could easily have ended on the scrap heap for the lack of resources to nurture and tend to fruition.

He, too, had made significant strides as a sportsman of genuine class, coming from that moulder of young gentlemen, the late George Lazarus' camp on Marescaux Road.

Very little encouragement was required from the politician. So all the "she will make you proud one day", "she has it but needs your help" and "she is one of six children and her mom, a committed comrade just can't manage" (he was being conservative as was to be discovered), were heard, but not registered.

 

giving back

 

Being around persons like Winston Blake and later Bobby Fray and always wanting to give something back, taking on the athlete support, was an easy sell. This so, even if it meant going through the amnesia which typifies politicians. (How can they be so forgetful of their benefactors?).

Given the hurdles she faced, the platform had to be laid. The objective was to provide a more acceptable base from which proper preparation could be launched for a meaningful career at the elite level.

News spread, scarce benefits on offer from one whose traditional payback was not displayed will always attract more interest. Soon others were brought under the canopy of support provided by this former cricketing standout.

Young ladies brimming with talent and a whole lot more came, some voluntarily, but most arm-locked by so-called well-wishers, all including the escorts, needing help.

In more ways than one, training and mentorship camps were established away from the girls' homes, schools and the environment in which they grew.

Those "boys on the bridge" or "under the ackee tree" were far too invasive to be tolerated. They demanded a "let off" far too reminiscent of pimping, to be countenanced or encouraged.

The experiences which followed will be catalogued and analysed in a Laurie Foster Remembers publication, due out this summer.

From the sponsorship/mentorship programme, catalysed by professional input from old school friends who administered medical and dental care, there was much satisfaction and gratitude for those who assisted. Motivational talks from former practitioners were also significant.