Thu | Oct 6, 2022

Rodgers, Williams credit Jamaica for their personal development

Published:Friday | September 23, 2022 | 12:07 AMSharla Williams/Gleaner Writer
Kingston College athlete, Ugandan Ari Rodgers, poses with his national flag after winning the  5000 metres open at the 2017 ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Championships.
Kingston College athlete, Ugandan Ari Rodgers, poses with his national flag after winning the 5000 metres open at the 2017 ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Championships.
Delano Williams of Munro College poses with masot ‘Champsy’ after winning the Class One 200 metres final at the 2013 ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Championships.
Delano Williams of Munro College poses with masot ‘Champsy’ after winning the Class One 200 metres final at the 2013 ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Championships.
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With school sports returning to normality, the discussions surrounding international students competing in Jamaica have also resurfaced. Aryamanya ‘Ari’ Rodgers of Kingston College and Delano Williams of Munro College, who became household names...

With school sports returning to normality, the discussions surrounding international students competing in Jamaica have also resurfaced.

Aryamanya ‘Ari’ Rodgers of Kingston College and Delano Williams of Munro College, who became household names because of their outstanding sporting performances while attending school in Jamaica, have joined this discussion.

Rodgers, who came to Jamaica from Uganda in 2016, and Williams, who came from Turks and Caicos Islands in 2008, said their experience in Jamaica is to be credited for their development.

“Attending school and playing sports in Jamaica helped me to build and have an organised sports participation. It also helped in the development of physical skills such as hand-eye coordination, functional movement skills and strength, and, from an academic viewpoint, general life skills, positive social benefits, leading to both improved social identity and social adjustment,” Rodgers told The Gleaner. “ (Plus) the unbelievable exposure worldwide was amazing. This provided me with an opportunity to get a college scholarship to continue my studies as well as personal growth.”

“Playing sports in Jamaica was a tremendous help because Munro College is an all-boys institution that installed values and goals within myself and definitely helped to mould me into the young man I am today. I got my eight CXC’s there and my four CAPE Units 1 and 2,” Williams told The Gleaner.

Both claimed individual Boys’ Championship titles and said, if they had remained in their home countries, they wouldn’t have been exposed to the opportunities Jamaica provided.

“Life would’ve been different if I remained in Uganda due to the fact that Uganda is an underdeveloped country compared to Jamaica, and, on top of that, there’s a lot of competition. I am talking about a population of more than 45 million people. As you know, God is above everything, you’d never know how I’d be since He’s the one who gifted me with talent,” Rodgers, the Boys’ Champs 2000 metres steeplechase record holder said.

“We at Turks and Caicos don’t have what Jamaica has,” Williams said.

GROWTH NEEDED

“Jamaica’s sporting fraternity is tremendous and it is great to the level where you establish elite athletes. The programmes that they have are so much better organised than in my country because we don’t really focus much on sports and pump money in sports like in Jamaica and I feel like that’s where we need to grow,”said the 2012 World Junior 200 metres champion.

“If I remained in Turks and Caicos, I probably would have been a policeman or fireman or something to that sort,” 28-year-old Williams added.

Both athletes said Jamaica’s sporting culture and structure make the island ideal for young athletes’ sporting development and, as such, they would recommend other international student athletes to come to Jamaica for their development.

“Jamaican sporting culture is totally different from Ugandan culture. I remember my first time at Champs, I was flabbergasted. It was an unbelievable feeling, seeing KC fans and my fans all over the country chanting my name, wearing shirts with my pictures on them and waving my country’s flag, unlike back home where you can’t find such an atmosphere,” Rodgers, who also helped KC to a Manning Cup title in 2018 after a 31 year drought, said. “There are more opportunities for exposure than back home (because) Jamaican sporting culture is welcoming and motivating as well; (and) the Jamaican people make you feel at home.”

Williams hailed the local coaches.

“The coaches are brilliant, they know what they are doing, especially from the high-school level, I have to commend Champs that helped bring me on the world stage. If you are in the top eight at Champs, then you are (among) the best in the world and that helped me to be a World Junior champion, many-time Carifta Games medallist, win many medals for my country, and I feel like that will bring those glorious moments to other Caribbean countries,” Williams, who went on to win senior medals such as a bronze medal in the 200 metres at the European Athletics Championships, said.

The two said they are continuing to build on what they received from competing and studying in Jamaica.

Rodgers is now at the New Mexico Highlands University pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

Williams, who was still training in Jamaica up to this year, said he will be going back to the Turks and Caicos Islands to take up a position at the Sports Commission. And, even though he has not finalised his retirement, he is planning to become a coach to help develop sports on his island after recently receiving his certifications to be a running and strength and conditioning coach.