Laurie Foster | Open up the new tracks to wider community!
With the official start of the 2019 local track and field season in early January, comes another synthetic track at the home of one of the major high schools competing for championships honours.
The Jamaica College family should be lauded for following Calabar High and Kingston College into this new era where these first-class facilities are made available at this level. Smartly used, this innovation can be of inestimable value to not only the respective institutions, but also to the wider country.
Jamaica, despite not enjoying the best of preparation platforms, has occupied an elite position in the world rankings of the sport. This is mainly in the area of the sprints where the McKenleys, Quarries, Otteys et al have led the way and stimulated a chasing pack to follow in their footsteps. The recent call is for athletes in other disciplines to be afforded the opportunity to rule the big stages. These recently constructed tracks, along with the facilities which accompany them, can provide an answer.
That said, it will not be merely the existence of same that will bring about the extension of the athletes' capabilities. A lot will depend on how much sharing is allowed to take place. For instance, the resident high schools should open up the usage to the wider community. This is not an easy sell as the question of meeting the costs of upkeep will arise. Although it can be a restrictive factor, it should not stand in the way
of achieving what should ultimately be the aim, which is to have a positive outcome on the country's image as a great track and field power. It should be a joint effort and not dependent solely on the schools' initiative.
This is where the Government enters the equation. Hand in hand with the private sector, it should form a partnership with the individual schools to cross that bridge. There should be a highly publicised programme to embrace the surrounding communities and let them feel that they are a part of the way forward. Proper management of the process will be key to the success which is envisaged. The required resources are of endless magnitude but it must be tackled in a way to maximise whatever is put into the project. It should, therefore, be borne in mind that it should not be seen at the end of the day as a waste of time and effort.
Another crucial matter should be considered. There should be something of similar lines going on in the rural areas of the country. As the past informs us, this should not be a Kingston city matter alone. Jamaican sport has benefited from performances which had their birth in the countryparts. It would be unwise to ignore that as it is sought to enhance the urban model. It is instructive to note that the rural schools have borne the brunt of producing the best in recent times. It is for them simply a matter of not having the support to replicate the recent infrastructure development in the Kingston area. That, too, should be addressed. It is only a matter of finding the will to further encourage the nation's chief contributor in this area.
Let us go for it. Jamaica will be the ultimate winner.
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