Wed | Nov 14, 2018

It's bigger than sports - Wellington, Riley weigh in on coach/athlete issues

Published:Saturday | February 3, 2018 | 12:00 AMAkino Ming/Gleaner Writer

Vice-president of the Inter Secondary Sports Association (ISSA), Keith Wellington, said that there will be no knee-jerk reaction from ISSA in relation to the arrest and charge of a high-school track and field coach for the abduction and rape of a student-athlete.

"This is not a new issue. The specific incident that has happened, but it is not a recent phenomenon. It is not something that will elicit a knee-jerk response from ISSA, because all along we have been doing things that are geared towards ensuring that our student-athletes are protected," Wellington said.

He said ISSA hosts several seminars with coaches and principals, which outline guidelines on what coaches and athletes relationships should be.

"We have guidelines for our competitions in terms of the duty of care that the coaches have and of course through our membership there are set guidelines as to some of the dos and the don'ts as it relate to how our coaches interact with our students," Wellington said.

Two weeks ago, members of Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA) turned up on the compound of the St Catherine -based school and arrested the coach of the female track and field team for allegedly abducting and raping one of his female student-athletes.

According to the Corporate Communications Unit of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, about 2:00 p.m., on December 13, 2017, the female student, after completing track and field training, was offered a ride by her coach to the bus stop. The accused reportedly drove past the bus stop and on to a dirt track off the Spanish Town bypass, close to the El Prado Housing Scheme in St Catherine, where he sexually assaulted her.

While he stated clearly that he is extremely concerned about the matter, the principal of St Elizabeth Technical High School said that the problem is bigger than sports.


Societal problem


"It is right across the society because we see this happening to our children inside the classroom. We have had more instances of classroom teachers being charged with sexually abusing a student than coaches abusing children," Wellington explained. "There is a big picture that we need to focus on, which is how is it that we who are charged with the protection of our children are held accountable. We at the supervisor level as well as those teachers and coaches."

President of the Coaches Association, David Riley, echoed Wellington's position that the issue is one that affects the wider society.

"I don't think this incident is any different from what happens in any community. How many times have we had cases where employers of schools do something that is illegal?" Riley questioned.

He said: "We have the Child Care and Protection Act to deal with things like these. It's just that the Child Care Protection Act is relatively new and most people who are involved in schools are ignorant of the details of the act. Even if you hear about a situation, you are bound by law to report it. I think we have to start there to getting people to start understand their roles. And definitely we have to ensure that people who carry out these things are dealt with to ensure that it does not reoccur."