Sat | Jun 6, 2020

Primary Champs cancellation a big blow – organisers

Published:Thursday | May 21, 2020 | 12:00 AMKavarly Arnold/Gleaner Writer
Djorkaeff Campbell of Windward Road Primary School on his way to victory in heat four of the Class One Boys’ 200m timed finals at the INSPORTS Primary Schools Track and Field Championships at Stadium East in Kingston last May.

Western Bureau:

ORGANISING COMMITTEE chairman Albert Ferguson says the cancellation of the Western Primary Schools Championships for this year negatively impacts prominent schools involved but could bring parity for lower-ranked ones.

The meet that would have seen over 30 schools in competition, was scheduled for June 12 and 13, but has been scrapped because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Not sure if we can measure the effect,” Ferguson said. “What usually happens is that coaches from all across the country, especially from the ‘brand name’ schools, travel to western Jamaica where they scout and recruit talent. This year they won’t be able to do that, which could maybe come as a weakening or jam in their wheel not having the best talent to make up their team.”

COACHING IMPACTED

Ferguson says that coaches will now have to depend heavily on physical education classes to identify talent to feed their Class Three and Four programmes.

“Maybe it could serve as a means of levelling the playfield somewhat, not being able to look at, and choose from, not just Western Primary Champs, but all the primary and prep schools across the country,” he said.

“It would now show the level of work and enthusiasm that the coach will have to put out to deliver good Class Three and Four teams going forward. It may also be a blessing in disguise for some lower-ranked schools, who can’t go all out funding recruitment drives.”

INSPORTS senior sports officer Anthony Gibbs is also concerned about the development of young athletes because of the cancellation of the INSPORTS Primary Schools Track and Field Championships for this year.

Gibbs says the cancellation, also because of COVID-19, will negatively impact the young athletes’ opportunities more so than it will their schools’ programmes.

“To some extent, I agree that it will have an impact on prominent high schools,” Gibbs said. “However, what I’m more concerned with is the athletes that are leaving for high schools, and this would be their final chance to be drafted into a school with a good track and field programme.

“This will probably affect their chances of getting a better opportunity to excel, and [now] have to settle for the schools where they are being placed, whether they have a track and field programme.”

The Primary Champs features 150 schools across the island and was to have four sections – the Eastern Champs at the National Stadium from May 7 to 9; the Central Champs at the GC. Foster College from May 11 to 13; the Western Champs at the St Elizabeth Technical High School Sports Complex from May 14 to 16; and the Grand Final at the National Stadium from May 28 to 30.