Thu | Aug 22, 2019

Laurie Foster | Time to take charge, JAAA

Published:Wednesday | July 31, 2019 | 12:07 AM

An avid reader of Foster’s Fairplay has taken the time to mention a matter which continues to be of serious concern.

It is a view which has been expressed here before and it seems that there is a rapid escalation in its intensity. With the equipment companies seeking more and more talented athletes to attract to their brand, it would appear that with the influx of additional funds, many of our young athletes are taking the sport as their top priority. In so doing, academic options are made to take the back seat, or, in some cases, no seat at all.

Readers are invited to take a look at some of the top performers from the ranks of the high schools, who have vanished from the scene or, if not completely, are heading for the exit door. No one wants to hasten their departure, but those close to the sport will readily identify who they are. The question which should occupy the minds of the administration should be what can be done to stem this flow.

Foster’s Fairplay holds to the view that there should be a greater element of control placed into the system. As an initial step, an athlete should not be allowed to accept a sponsorship offer unless it is registered with the governing body, the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA).

Whether it is called a contract or any other business-related name, it should consist of an amount to take care of education-related expenses. By extension, there needs to be evidence of attendance at a reputable institution of learning. This should all be monitored by the JAAA to ensure that there is strict adherence to the predetermined rules which guide the process. Any attempt by sponsor or athlete to frustrate the intention should attract significant sanctions. The sponsor should be charged a fee, which should go to the JAAA so that body can have the means to fund its stewardship.

It cannot be accepted that those plans will totally solve the situation which now exists, but it is a start and should at least demonstrate that a more serious look is being focused on the problem. The system should be seen to be caring for the youth as some are unable to do that on their own.

AFTER-CHAMPS TRANSITION

There is another situation among our young athletes which also needs to be tackled. Over the years, the country has been failing to benefit from some awesome talents after they have given their all to their various high schools in the March/April period. A substantial portion is encouraged to feel that once they have made sterling contributions to the Boys and Girls’ Champs cause, and following that, the Carifta Games and the Penn Relays, that is the end of their tour of duty for the year.

As to whether they make themselves available for national representation in June/July is most often dependent on the high school coaches, most of whom are not remunerated for the extra work involved. This must not be allowed to continue.

The JAAA should reinstate each year the type of centralised summer camps which once existed under former regimes. They were made to work and have a telling effect on performances back then, so why not now? A way ought to be found to fund this effort which has proven to be so crucial to the development of the young athletes.

There is so much the JAAA needs to do in the interest of the nation and its advance in the sport. With that in mind, it should shelve the practice where it appears to sit back and watch as the school communities prepare so many outstanding athletes, thereafter they announce national trials and expect the lanes to be filled. This is not happening now and the JAAA should take responsibility for these failures.

To have athletes of the calibre of Kevona Davis, a global youth 100m medallist, and Ashanti Moore, who boasts a personal best of 11.17 over the same distance, not be a part of the Nationals, the former for the second year running, is unforgivable. This is especially so when their absence seems be taken for granted and no explanations given. It gives the impression that there is no monitoring of their programmes, which cannot be a good look with such talents. With things as they seem, who will be brave enough to say that the same will not be the case again next year?

Foster’s Fairplay pleads with the JAAA to take a concerned look at these situations and show that it is not beyond their capabilities to make a meaningful difference. A country’s future in track and field is highly dependent on its governing body. It has no desire to be let down.

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