Thu | Feb 27, 2020

Orville Higgins | ISSA’s transfer rules are flawed

Published:Saturday | February 15, 2020 | 12:16 AM
A Kingston College athlete gees up the school’s supporters during final day action at the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championship at the National Stadium on Saturday, March 30, 2019.

The issue of a transferred student-athlete is being discussed in sporting circles. It involves an athlete who was transferred from a western Jamaican school to Kingston College (KC) last year. My sources tell me that the athlete went to KC in March last year, mere days before the 2019ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships. The youngster is super talented. He was good enough to break records for his previous school a couple of seasons ago. He sat out Champs last year while at KC. The reigning Boys champions want him to compete for them at Champs next month. He would be one of the favourites for an event in Class Two.

It appears that he will not be able to compete, and I happen to feel really sorry for the young man. ISSA’s rules state that athletes have to sit out a year without competing before they are allowed to represent the school they are transferred to. The rules also speak to missing one event that the student wants to participate in while he or she is at the new school. It should have been fairly straightforward. March last year to March this year is a 12-month window where the youngster would not have competed for KC.

Champs starts on March 24 this year. On the surface, it appears he has satisfied the requirements. Alas, that is not the case. The registration deadline for athletes to compete at this year’s Champs passed yesterday, February 14. Based on how ISSA is interpreting the rules, the youngster would not have been at KC for one year at the time of registration, and therefore will not be eligible to compete for KC at Champs this year.

While the student would have served his one-year period of inactivity by the time Champs comes around at the back end of March, he will have to watch on television like most of us. As a man bluntly put it to me earlier this week, “the registration rule ketch him.”

A longer wait

To compete for KC next year, the young athlete would have had to miss not one, but two Champs. This is unfortunate and quite unfair. ISSA’s stance on athletes sitting out a year before they can represent their new school is understandable. The rule was designed to stop athletes moving willy nilly from school to school. This case is special.

The youngster did miss Champs last year while attending the North Street institution. That should have been enough to see him compete for KC this year.

The timing of the registration should not have been the cut- off point to determine when he satisfied the 12-month rule. The 12-month rule should be from the time he started school, to the time of the competition he intends to partake in. That said, surely Kingston College should have known that the rules would ‘ketch the yute.’

Why did they not make him start KC in February? The registration for Champs is always the middle of February.

Why would the youngster start attending KC in March and not early February, or even January? Somebody at KC seriously dropped the ball. Going strictly by the letter of the law, ISSA is right to bar the athlete from Champs this year.

My opinion though is that they need to revise this rule forthwith. It is harsh to have this youngster sitting out two Champs before he can don the purple colours of KC.

Orville Higgins is a veteran broadcaster with more than 20 years experience in the field of sports.