Anderson urges greater community involvement
Jamaican Olympian Marvin Anderson has said that while he understands the reason why schools choose to scout and buy athletes for their respective squads, he would rather see the schools depending on the support of the community to augment sponsorship which would allow them to keep hold of their better athletes.
Anderson was the motivational speaker at yesterday's launch of the 39th staging of the Milo Western Relays, which is set for February 11, 2017 at the Montego Bay Sports Complex.
"I am urging the schools to use a community-based thrust to acquire sponsorship, as against always looking to the established organisations such as Milo and Digicel for example," said Anderson.
"While these companies continue to assist through million dollar sponsorships at various levels, schools may not be fortunate enough to be on that list. So I am asking (the schools) to attract small but effective sponsorship to assist the development of your student athletes," he said.
Anderson is a former footballer and athlete at the William Knibb High School and Duncans All-Age in Trelawny, who went on to represent Jamaica in the 100m and 200m at the Carifta Games, CAC Junior Championship, World Championship and Olympics.
He said for schools to become independent and be in a better position to keep their athletes, they must be willing to change the approach in how they choose to develop the athletes they have.
This entails giving them the necessary support on and off the track and that will serve as motivation for the athletes to stay the course at their school instead of taking up offers elsewhere.
One new event, the 800m, is to be added to the event this year with Ray Harvey, the meet director expressing confidence that this year's staging will be one of the best ever.
Apart from the overall sponsorship package, Ockino Petrie of Nestle revealed a second instalment of the Milo Western Initiative and Coaches incentive, geared towards the development of the sport in western-based schools.
The initiative is a $200,000 sum for student athletes, who end up making the national track and field team and this amount is to be shared among the schools.
The best coach at the Relays will get a sum of $50,000 from Milo and this will be decided by the Meet Director and his team.
This year's patron will be Stephen Smith of Grange Hill High School in Westmoreland and chairman of the County of Cornwall Athletics Association, for his contribution to the development of the sport in the region.
More than 2,000 athletes from several primary and prep schools, high schools, tertiary institutions such as UTech, GC Foster and UWI, along with club teams such as MVP, Maximum Air, Sprintec and the Santa Cruz-based Elite Performance Track Club are expected to compete.