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Champs Preview: the Hunt Legacy

Published:Tuesday | March 24, 2015 | 12:00 AMLaurie Foster
Georgette Hunt
The late David 'Wagga' Hunt

Champs 2015 is here. With it comes the regular features one associates with the world-acclaimed spectacle it has become.

The fact that peace initiatives have been introduced - fÍtes and parties jointly orchestrated by the main rivals to curb youthful verve and vigour - shows the level of intensity and squaring off for battle that takes place.

In all this, Foster's Fairplay remains relentless that a thought be spared for the few whose contribution, and the memory and legacy it brings forth, are recognised and respected.

This mission statement will be unceasing, lonely, though, it might be. Someone must care.

This columnist takes a look at the sadly departed David 'Wagga' Hunt and his sterling support for what is celebrated with the staging of another Champs.

The Kingston College Old Boy had given of his considerable skills and an uncanny ability to motivate and inspire youngsters to football through most conspicuously, Calabar High School and the national youth programme.

He was a conscientious worker. One cannot help but recall his apparently lonesome vigil at the top of the grandstand during the minor track and field meets, video camera running and a brain and passion doing likewise at greater pace. This was to have gratifying results which demand attention.

With his attendant writing and analytical gifts, wife Georgette to join him later, the modestly bearded 'Wagga' produced the Champs Preview.

It was the 'shot of the day'. The attractive full-colour design made the charts even before an examination of its content. It was the publication of first choice, not only on entering the competition arena, but to send for friends overseas not privileged to be 'in the house'.

Foster's Fairplay, just before a departure for the Penn Relays Carnival in the late 80s, fielded instructions from long-time associates who would be linking up in Philadelphia: "Don't forget mi Champs Preview."

These are the words of widow Georgette, who kindly and graciously consented to an interview with this columnist.

"The magazine started in 1984, and it became very popular, moreso than the book produced by ISSA itself."

outselling predecessor

This would pose a problem for sure. This columnist further endorses that thought while quoting one of the most rabid foreign-based Champs supporters: "'Memba di Champs Preview. Mark yuh, ah not saying the Champs Book, but the Preview'."

The most welcomed publication was outperforming against, and by extension, outselling its predecessor.

So swift and sure was the impact of, and interest in, Hunt's magazine that the local governing body - the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) - sought a collaboration, which came in 2001 with Hunt remaining the editor and publisher.

But what has happened to this most-sought-after annual production after the passing of Hunt.

Georgette explains:

"The magazine continued (as a collaborative effort) in the same vein, same quality that he (Hunt) had carried it to."

He left us in 2007, and the ISSA/Champs Preview union carried on. However, this year, the publication is back on its own.

"ISSA and I were not really agreeing on the direction the magazine should take," most graciously, she added. "There was no acrimonious split. We agreed that this is your view, and this is our view; so since we are not meeting we can do our separate thing once again."

Those last two words from the mild-mannered Meadowbrook resident emphasised a clear confidence in her staff's ability to go it alone.

To her everlasting credit, she held back a lot, and her frequent "this is off the records" gave a lucid indication that relations with ISSA had reached an irreconcilable path.

However, she was never about to display any animosity. Her sole objective being to preserve a blessed memory of her late partner and create a bright future for her eight-year-old daughter.

As for the split, which predictably came, modesty and an admirable calm disposition resurfaced.

"No, I have no bitterness, as in life there is a season for everything; and maybe, it is time for the Preview to grow in another direction and become bigger and better than before."

Stand strong, Mrs Hunt. The memory and fortis spirit of 'Wagga' demand that you do.

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