Foster's Fairplay: Maintain the spirit
The pleasant aroma of a Jamaican high school boasting its own synthetic track still hovers.
Three weeks ago, the Calabar High School family was so blessed, kicking off by hosting a track and field meet in honour of two of its most illustrious sons, Herb McKenley and Arthur Wint. The atmosphere was electric, so many students of the sport voicing views as to how the wider arena of the sport could benefit.
To say that the future is pregnant with possibilities would be a most appropriate conclusion. For the homesters, the reality of this new day and how the facility upgrade can positively affect the fortunes of the school, must have been up for active consideration.
With four straight (titles) already secured, it could sound the trumpet on the start of a dynasty of Champs successes, only achieved by the Kingston College (KC) 1962-1975 reign.
The execution and maintenance of Champs glory comes with inbuilt, stiff challenges. The long standing major contenders, the two mentioned and Jamaica College (JC), must optimise their chances by having access to top class facilities for preparation.
Before the Red Hills Road 'newbie' surfaced, all three had to access the only city convenience, the National Stadium East, when it was time to sharpen up. This would have added great expense. The fact that Calabar now stands richly endowed in this area must give them not only incentive, but advantage.
Foster's Fairplay suspects that they are eyeing an unbroken run similar to the Fortis crew. Already, there is in-camp talk of 'having it locked' until 2021. Five more would ensure them the honour. It would be a proud bunch, as was that cohort of not-often seen 'Bar Lifers', who flocked to the new track on Saturday, January 23.
However, all these C'bar black and green dreams could be thwarted by their closest and ever-persistent rivals from Old Hope Road and North Street.
Those responsible for fundraising at these two heavyweights, must now be knocking heads and pockets to unearth that J$50 million to follow suit. Occupying their minds, must be thoughts that "this Calabar take-off is to be commended, but a strident response is essential".
Having said all that, Foster's Fairplay has been made aware of an ill wind that is blowing over cross participation of athletes in this or that meet. It is a pleasing tribute to the advances in the sport that the calendar offers multiple options on any given weekend. Choices must be made by team management as to where the athletes should go to seek the competition that is required.
Achieving the qualifying marks for Champs is also a major factor. If it means a squad split, taking in different locations, so be it, as long as selected requirements are met.
Unfortunately, there are instances when these decisions are known to be made for questionable reasons. This columnist has heard, coming from at least two camps, sounds that are unwholesome to the ear. To cite, "Oh, so I support you and you do not support me, so I will no longer give you my support".
This is not what the country or its most globally prominent sport should be trying to build or maintain, and which it inevitably will be called on to repair. No one benefits from this malice aforethought.
This columnist will leave it at that for now. There is no desire to destroy reputations for fair play that could be long and burdensome in rebuilding.
The baton of abatement must now be passed to the custodians of high school sports. These are the principals. Working as the oversight group, they are known to be strident in the execution of their duties in several other areas. Rightly so, but these include pockets that are doing well, and in the view of Foster's Fairplay need no meddling. This columnist sees the cauterising of confrontational thoughts, as mentioned, as matters for urgent attention.
As the process streams towards the gala event - Champs - let there be a resolve to participate in the meets which best suit the particular programme. It should never be out of spite or a payback for a perceived wrong.
High School sport is so sweet. Do not try to spoil it.
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