Mon | Sep 25, 2017

SDF defends improvements to St Jago's field

Published:Monday | December 26, 2016 | 12:20 AMRachid Parchment
Students take part in a training session at St Jago high school in Spanish Town, St Catherine recently. The playing field at the school was recently renovated by the Sports Development Foundation.
A section of the playing field at St Jago High School in St Catherine. The surface was recently renovated by the Sports Development Foundation.
A section of the playing field at St Jago High School in St Catherine. The surface was recently renovated by the Sports Development Foundation.
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Denzil Wilks, general manager of the Sports Development Foundation, says that the body has done all it can to improve the playing surfaces at St. Jago High, despite complaints from the school that the body has neglected it.

Officials at St. Jago had previously said that they are worried that they may not be able to prepare a team in time for next year’s staging of the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls Athletics Championships in March because of difficulties finding a place to host training sessions.

This, according to them, is because the field at the school was in what they describe as a “shoddy state” but Wilks told The Gleaner that the surface is in what he calls 90 to 95 per cent of what would be ideal.

“If we were to complete it to ideal, what it would require is another couple of months without interference and that could not be afforded,” he says.

The interference Wilks refers to is that of student athletes training on the field, which affects the growth of grass.

The Gleaner visited the school recently and saw grass on the surface but there was also dirt patches in various areas, as well as weeds.

Wilks says, however, that the field was handed over in good condition but says it has been worsened by the teams’ activities on it.

At the time of The Gleaner’s visit, there were also four different teams carrying out training on the surface. These were the boys’ and the girls’ track teams, as well as the girls’ football team and the boys’ cricket team.

Wilks says SDF officials visit the school on a weekly basis to assess the condition of the facilities since it was handed over on November 14.
Meanwhile, one St Jago official, who asked not to be identified, noted that the school has no choice but to have its teams train on the field at this point.

The teams were originally training at the Spanish Town Prison Oval, home of Rivoli FC. They have since been asked to find another location because the football club needs the venue to not only train, but play their St. Catherine FA Major League matches.

Parents also requested a change in location because of fear of the safety of their children getting home at nights.

But one of the school’s coaches remains positive, being able to now train on the field.

“Half a loaf is better than none. At least we’re training now and we’re happy. I prefer to be training on the field in this state than to have no field at all,” he said.