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Transfer talks - Education minister to discuss schoolboy footballers issue with key stakeholders

Published:Thursday | January 3, 2013 | 12:00 AM

Correction & Clarification

In an article published in The Gleaner on January 3, 2013, titled 'Transfer talks: Education minister to discuss schoolboy footballers issue with key stakeholders', it was stated that Mr. Neville Bell, coach of St George's College's successful Manning Cup team for the second year in a row, had been unapologetic about the approach of recuiting student athletes and that he said by the practice, he was only giving players a chance.

The actual statement made by Mr bell was: "I have never asked a young man to come to St George's College, never. I have never gone to a parent and asked them to send their child to St George's College. But you know what, I find nothing wrong with that. i find nothing wrong if I want my school to be the best, I find nothing wrong with that. So the folks who are speaking, continue to speak. We will continue to do what I am doing, I don't speak on behalf of the school, but I am not going to stop doing what I am doing. I am trying to help young people."

We accept that our summary of Mr Bell's statement fell short of conveying what he actually said and for this we apologise.


Daraine Luton,
Senior Staff Reporter

AMID THE fury surrounding his planned intervention in the matter of transfer of student athletes, education minister Ronald Thwaites is set to meet with key stakeholders tomorrow to get a better understanding of the subject.

Thwaites told The Gleaner yesterday that he has invited the likes of top schoolboy coach Neville 'Bertis' Bell to the meeting, which will also include representatives of the Inter-Secondary Schools' Sports Association (ISSA).

"I have approached them so that we can take the hostility and the acrimony out of the discourse and come, hopefully, to some better understanding of how transfers can take place, when, and without the vulgar inducements that have been characterised sometimes in the past," the education minister told The Gleaner.

In November, Thwaites told weekly tabloid SportGlobe he is to inform the Portia Simpson Miller-chaired Cabinet of his concerns about the transfer of student athletes.

Trumping transfers altogether

The minister also said he will be taking a submission to Cabinet and, if Cabinet accepts his proposal, he will lay a ministry paper in Parliament to signal his intent to stamp out the practice.

"The net effect is to weaken schools that are probably already weak and would go entirely against the policy that I have set out, which is that you must grow where you are planted," Thwaites had said.

Schoolboy football powerhouses St George's College, Thwaites' alma mater, has been referred to by fans as 'STGC FC', and Wolmer's Boys' have been tagged 'Wolmer's United', because of the number of quality players transferred to the institutions.

Thwaites admitted being aware of the nicknames, saying "to the extent that that expression betrays the truth, it is disgraceful".

"Many of the schools the students are 'bought' from are trying to find their feet in the ISSA competitions and it is unfortunate when their best talent is lured to other places," the minister said.

Recently, Trevor 'Jumpy' Harris, a football coach who, with others, led the Kingston College programme from January 2010 to August 2012, proposed that where transfers take place, the receiving school should compensate the other school for the investments made in the transferred athletes' sports development.

Thwaites yesterday told The Gleaner that Bell "has such an important role to play" as it relates to any possible policy on the issue.

In the meantime, Thwaites said he is happy with the public discourse on the matter of student transfers.

"It has been good. It has been a fairly balanced discussion; the pros and the cons," Thwaites said.

He added: "I think that the discussion has made people think more about the purposes of education, the role of sports and physical development, extra-curricular activity in general in the education process and ... evaluation of the various programmes of schools of all types."

The minister also said he was not against transfer of student players.

"Where transfers are rooted in academic benefit for the student and also has an athletic or extra-curricular aspect to it, it is unobjectionable," Thwaites said.

He added: "Where inducements of one sort or another are made, and very often not delivered, then it is absolutely wrong.

"I long for the day when all of our schools have a reasonable enough extra-curricular platform that the pressure will not be there to move to another place for that particular advantage, just as I do even more so for excellence and competence in academics."