All set for INSPORTS All-Age and Junior High Champs
The 39th staging of the INSPORTS All-Age and Junior High Athletics Championships was launched at the National Stadium's hospitality room on April 20, 2017 with several noted highlights.
Sixteen schools are registered to compete in the three-day event, which starts April 26 at the National Stadium East. This is a reduction from the 24 schools that took part last year, won by Windward Road Primary and Junior High.
The event this year will be free to the public, with action beginning 9 a.m. each day. However, spectators are being urged to abide by the strict guidelines of the organisers and Independence Park Limited (IPL) - operators of the National Stadium complex.
Over the years, the number of participating schools has been dwindling due to the fact that all-age and junior high schools are being phased out by the Government under a policy initiative.
Still, there are over 80 such institutions across the island, noted Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports Minister Olivia 'Babsy' Grange, who announced a $500,000 allocation to be shared among the competing teams.
In her presentation as the guest speaker, the minister urged the Institute of Sports to do more to attract more schools to the championships.
"My understanding is there are some 84 all-age/junior high institutions across the island, and INSPORTS must do everything in its powers, getting as many of these schools participating. So, next year, we must see the majority of these schools competing," said the minister.
Meantime, administrative director (ad interim), Mr Renardo Smith, says the agency is undergoing a transformation and will improve its outlook going forward.
Speaking publicly for the first time as the administrative director, Smith said: "Though the challenge may be difficult, it is not insurmountable, but will require the full cooperation from all stakeholders involve in the transformation process, which has started."
Fourth vice-president of the Jamaica Administrative Athletics Association (JAAA), Vilma Charlton, cautioned coaches against overworking athletes.
"We applaud the schools that now employ qualified coaches and physical education teachers, as only they understand the level of training that children at this age ought to be undergoing. Therefore, teachers and coaches, please be reminded that the children are still growing and that you can inflict unnecessary damage or injury, which, most times, they never get over," said Charlton, who is an Olympian.
Education officer for physical education, Elton Johnson, highlighted the importance of physical education and human development in creating well-rounded student athletes.