Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Big bucks to win Boys and Girls' Champs

Published:Sunday | February 12, 2017 | 2:00 AMShayne Fairman
Calabar High School athletes lift the Mortimer Geddes trophy at the end of last year's ISSA Boys and Girls' Championships.

While some of the smaller high schools are budgeting approximately $2 million to compete at the 2017 Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA)-GraceKennedy Boys and Girls' Championships, it could cost up to $10 million to be crowned champions at this year's meet.

Preparations for the season began as early as last August for some schools, and before the real competition starts, thousands of dollars have been spent on nutrition, medical expenses, transportation, accommodation, gear, miscellaneous fees and participating in in various development meets across the island.

The cost per meet depends on team sizes. It can be as low as $17,000 to as much as $70,000.

Some of the top schools have very active past students' associations which help to bankroll their programmes, however.

Many are also spared what could be significant cost of track-and-field gear because of contracts with top sports apparel companies Puma, Nike or Adidas.

Calabar High School's head of sports, Sean Newell, describes the reigning Boys' Championships budget as a 'tidy sum of money', while noting he was not in a position to disclose the exact figure.

They fund transportation, medical bills, food and other miscellaneous fees for the over 100 boys who make up the team. Calabar has a contract with Puma, which outfits the team.

Former champions Jamaica College, considered by some to be a well-funded school because of a vibrant old boys association, have their struggles, too.

Head of Sports Ortis Wynter calls funding Boys' Champs "a very expensive venture".

MULTIPLE FUNDING AVENUES

Wynter pointed out that funding comes from different quarters, including old boys, local sponsors and gear providers Puma.

Naceive Brown, head of the sports department at Girls' Champions Edwin Allen High, calls his schools funding of the track and field programme "a massive economic undertaking".

Last year, the school had to fork out in excess of $3.6 million for food, transport, accommodation and other costs for a team of 150 and officials.

They expect a 15-20 per cent increase in the cost to compete at Champs and the various meets leading up to it this year. Edwin Allen's co-ed team could, therefore, cost in excess of $10 million.

They have a contract with sports apparel maker Nike.

Brown underlined that his school chooses the meets they participate in to gain incentives to put back into the programme, while noting they will be going for their fourth consecutive title.

The 2017 Boys and Girls' Championships will be held from March 28 to April 1 at the National Stadium.