Mon | Nov 30, 2020

‘Level playing field’ unlikely for high-school sports – Wellington

Published:Wednesday | November 4, 2020 | 12:08 AM

Inter-Secondary School Sports Association (ISSA) President Keith Wellington says that distributing resources equally across high schools in Jamaica will not be easily achieved.

This follows a recent statement by sports analyst Hubert Lawrence, who highlighted that some secondary institutions have lost quality athletes to schools that are better equipped with feeding programmes, recovery-management programmes, and proper infrastructures.

Wellington told The Gleaner that ISSA’s ideal situation is to have all secondary schools on a levelled playing field, but noted that it will of course be difficult to do so at this time.

“Like everything else, resources are not evenly spread across schools,” he said. “So, he (Lawrence) is right that in order for us to maximise all the talents that are available, it would be better off if all the resources are spread across all schools. But, of course, that is an ideal situation that is hardly likely to happen.

“We would recognise the discussions also taking place about the placement of students re the Primary Exit Profile (PEP) examinations. It is the same principle that all the ‘bright’ students are placed at the top 20-25 schools, and the bottom 150 schools get the weaker ones. I think it is the way of the world, where some have, and some don’t. In a democratic society and a free market, what naturally happens is that those who have, want more, and those who don’t have, they lose what they have.”

Lawrence said that each athlete should be given a fair opportunity to showcase their talents at the secondary level, but it will require the incoming Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) administration to assist with the development of grass-roots programmes in the schools.

“Whoever the new JAAA’s president is, they are coming into a changing environment,” he said.“So, if ISSA is having tighter rules on transfers and athletes’ movements, it means that athletes, more often than before, will stay at the schools where they started high school. If those are the schools that don’t have good track programmes, good running fields, starting blocks and other resources, then the JAAA will have to facilitate the building up of infrastructure in those schools; so that if you’re going to stay there, you have a fair chance to show how great you can be at the high-school level.


“The situation is that the best facilities were not spread all around, they were built up by individual schools with their own resources, oftentimes by sponsors, past students and parents contributing to make those facilities better. Therefore, if you’re a young high-school netballer, footballer or track athlete and you see those resources or the results produced by those facilities, you decide to move.”

He said that the implementation of even resources in schools will benefit the nation in the long run at the Olympic and World Championship levels.

However, JAAA General Secretary and presidential candidate Garth Gayle said that ISSA holds responsibility at that level.

“School matters are dealt with by ISSA, and the JAAA deals with national matters,” Gayle said. “We would not get involved or have comments with what happens in a secondary-school setting.”

Athena Clarke