Laurie Foster: Protecting Fuller’s legacy
Last Saturday, Manchester High School hosted the fourth staging of the Charlie Fuller Memorial field events meet.
It was founded through the concept to relive the memory of a man who gave sterling support to track and field at the mid-island institution.
The chief person who conceptualised the meet, still the engine that drives the event, is the former outstanding sprinter out of the neighbouring parish's St Elizabeth Technical High School, Carlos Samuels. Issues of coaching leadership at the school have led Samuels elsewhere. Although he works assiduously to ensure otherwise, there is no doubt that the image of the event, could be tarnished.
Fuller was a sporting personality, whose contribution to the upliftment and empowerment of the female track and field programme at Manchester High knew no limits. However, there were no geographic boundaries.
This columnist recalls a trip to visit the Falmouth home of a girl from Vere Technical, who had been granted a track scholarship, just to offer
congratulations and wish bon voyage.
Then came the thought that her younger teammate, slightly errant at times, would benefit from the trip as a motivational tool. The fact that the latter miss lived in Kingston was no hurdle. The stout-hearted benefactor, as was Fuller, journeyed from his Manchester home to the city, collected the young athlete, drove to Trelawny for the visit, returned to Kingston for the drop-off, and made his way home all in one memorable Sunday.
The incidents of selflessness, displaying single-minded dedication to the female athletes at "Chester" were numerous. The accompanying, domestic deprivation is best described by his devoted wife, Olive.
With what Mr Fuller gave to Manchester High during the years he substantially funded the track and field programme the areas of controversy surrounding the introduction and subsequent staging of the meet are unfortunate.
There is a threatening situation that needs to be set right if the memory of the peaceful and non-contentious individual is to be adequately maintained.
As this column is being written, former head coach Samuels has taken up duties at a Kingston school. This as the Mandeville school administration ponders an altercation between his assistant, Rahnsomn Edwards, and him. Reports are that there was a physical confrontation and both were placed on suspension.
Previous to that development, former head coach Jerry Holness returned from stints overseas and resumed his position, displacing Samuels, who, from all reports, had endeared himself to the athletes. Tales of a fallout in enthusiasm are rife a testimony to the influence Samuels had, and presumably, still has, even from a position external to the programme.
Holness, now seemingly firmly in the saddle, has gone for another experienced coach as his assistant in Duane Jarrett. Jarrett was his deputy in the first overseas stint in Dubai.
CLOUDS OF UNCERTAINTY
With so many offers for Samuels' talent as a coach and motivator of athletes, it is unlikely that his services will again be available to the Manchester team. What seems more likely is that with or without his invitation, some will want to take up residence within his new programme if logistically permissible.
With all these clouds of uncertainty, where does this leave the event held to commemorate the excellence promoted and sustained by Fuller that was Manchester High School under his canopy of passionate support and stewardship?
It must be remembered that even the inception of the event was contested by the organisers of the long-standing JAAA/Puma Invitational, held simultaneously crosstown at Kirkvine. They were not amused that competition would be coming from persons who once were aligned to their event.
It is to the credit of the opposing parties and some fruitful dialogue following disruptive stand-offs that good sense triumphed and they can now coexist. An existing destructive culture may not allow this harmony to persist. Whatever happens, the CFMFEM should not suffer.
The legacy of Charlie, his spirit of goodwill and malice to no one, need to be sustained.
Foster's Fairplay issues a fervent call for constant interaction with the parties to lift and sustain the positive direction in which the meet is now trending. It is incumbent on these stakeholders to ensure that this takes place.
Do not allow the memory of this great man to be sullied in any way.
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