Keisha Hill, Gleaner Writer
THE G.C. Foster College of Physical Education and Sport seeks to train at the highest level, both academically and professionally, physical education teachers and other sports personnel. Established over 30 years ago on 41 acres of land at Angels in Spanish Town, St Catherine, it is the only institution of its kind in the English-speaking Caribbean.
Since its establishment, the co-educational institution has seen much development and improvement not only to the physical facilities, but also to the curriculum and programmes offered at the college. These improvements, according to Edward Shakes, principal of the college, will continue in an effort to make the country and the Caribbean region proud of the institution.
"The college was established to train physical education teachers and coaches because of the absence then of trained persons. Since then, 90 per cent of our graduates are trained persons working in Jamaica and the Caribbean," Shakes reported..
Now, Shakes said, persons are not only trained as physical education teachers and coaches, but also as match officials, persons in the areas of recreation, as well as massage therapy, gyms and the hospitality sector.
renovated and modernised
The facilities at the G.C. Foster College of Physical Education and Sport include a 400m mundo track, football, rugby, cricket, baseball, a multipurpose gymnasium, weightlifting, table tennis, tennis courts and outside netball courts.
"We have renovated and modernised the offices and we are looking to add a spectator stand where the track is located," Shakes said.
The college, he said, has a rich history of successful coaches who are involved in different sporting disciplines at the national level. These include: Michael Clarke, coach of the 2012 Grace/ISSA Boys' Championship winners Calabar High School; Maurice Wilson, coach of Girls' Champions Holmwood Technical High, a school which has won the title nine years in a row. They lost out on a 10th straight title this year to Edwin Allen High School, coached by Michael Dyke - another G.C. Foster alumni.
"Our coaches are developing sports in the schools and, by extension, helping Jamaica to excel. We also have persons in football and cricket that are doing well. Quite a lot of the Sunshine Girls learned their skills here," Shakes said.
There are more than 600 students at the institution, with a majority of them coming from rural parishes. The principal is also calling for persons to invest in the development of the institution. The student housing, he said, was built at a time when there was a different ethos at the college. This ethos, he noted, has changed and with the number of students that require accommodation on campus, it has been difficult to provide for them.
The college has also been offering scholarships to some students to offset their expenses. There are more than 70 scholarship recipients in the programme, and Shakes said with additional investment they will be able to offer more assistance to students who are in need.
"For over two years, the Sports Development Foun-dation has been good in providing scholarships and will provide over $20 million dollars in assistance over a four-year period. Jamaica Bickle also provides us with US$10,000 per year towards our athletes who have a definite need," Shakes disclosed.
The G.C. Foster College of Physical Education and Sport has also embarked on a new phase in its development process. The institution recently launched an exhibition looking at Jamaica's participation in the Olympics up to the year 2000. This is the prelude to a museum that the college will establish to chronicle the achievements of Jamaican athletes.
"The exhibit has started with track and field and in due course we will be adding other sports. We will also include new and emerging sports," Shakes said.