Foster's Fairplay | Recruit responsibly
There seems to be a stigma attached to schools, which facilitate their advance in sporting endeavours by a particular type of recruiting. This strategy, by no means new, involves attracting student athletes, who were brought to recognition elsewhere in the system. The objective is to enhance the progress or success on the playfields of the receiving institution. It is said, and not without justification, that there are monetary gains that accrue to the facilitators, who have decisive inputs in "swinging the deals."A recent post on social media, saw a prominent and currently high-performing Kingston school, having its name tarnished as their football team has been assembled by several "raids" conducted at other schools. The label given them was St Wolbar (meaning: the recruited players were drawn from St. Jago and Calabar). This speaks in stentorian terms to what is now being manifested among the schools.
Foster's Fairplay, having first opposed, and later agreed with colleague and friend, former national football representative, Dr. Lascelve "Muggy" Graham, has taken another look. The former brilliant St. George's College ball handler, remains firm in the view that admission to high school should have a distinct academic bias. Any other talent should find a home away from the laboratories and study rooms of learning environs. Never should the ability to influence a sporting outcome, be considered.
This columnist has developed some empathy for the practice, for which the Doctor has little or no time. However, there needs to be an established template for this cross fertilisation, which must be set in the interest of all concerned. What must be foremost in the mind of the relevant parties, is the future of the young boy or girl. It is ideal that both the academic and sporting potential of the individual are considered, so once the switch is completed, there must be equal attempts to address both aspects. This columnist is aware of programmes where if the performance on the field of play does not live up to expectations, there is a total separation from the new school. This should not be.
In such a case, even if not previously in place, there must be an effort to upgrade academic skills to bring them closer and hopefully aligned with what is required in the classroom. Whenever this is not done, those responsible for the transfer would have failed miserably in their bid to steer a life in an acceptable or positive direction.
The country is bedeviled by rampant and raging crime. The authorities seem to be at their wits end to stem, much less to stultify this scourge. To virtually abandon a young life because he or she does not meet the requirements in an area of another's choice, will not provide the remedial solutions that are being sought, and which are now of national concern.
Another growing problem, is that a significant portion of developing sporting talent is not steered towards the outlet that offers the best opportunity for further advance. Many are the youngsters who, given the lack of attention, fall by the wayside, ending up in the precipice of the talented but forgotten. The failure to master the Arts and the Sciences ought not to be a recipe for abandonment and total rejection. There must be a better way to uplift our children and not allow them to follow the wrong paths.
The Intersecondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) has a designated role here. The organisation has limiting regulations to address the issue, but more are needed and the execution must be strictly monitored and rigidly enforced. The United States Collegiate system with its attendant rules and administration may provide good examples.
Let the recruiting continue, but at the same time, the school system should provide a more fertile pathway for our athletes to make the transition to the national level.
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