MUCH

Jamaica Gleaner - - SPORTS -

un­cer­tain man­ner when sched­ules re­quire them to play three matches in seven days. Yes, pro­fes­sional adult males.

Yet we (con­stantly) de­mand that our young Ja­maicans play three matches weekly “be­cause we have to com­plete the com­pe­ti­tion be­fore the end of the school term”.

The lives and fu­ture of our chil­dren are be­ing sac­ri­ficed on the al­tar of bla­tant com­mer­cial­ism.

At what point do we the peo­ple say to the or­gan­is­ers of school­boy

foot­ball ‘no mas’, ‘no more’?

We can re­duce the num­ber of games played by the ‘bet­ter’ schools by (a) di­vid­ing the Man­ning Cup and the daCosta Cup into two tiers, with pro­mo­tion and de­mo­tion based on their plac­ing in the pre­vi­ous year’s com­pe­ti­tion, or (b) man­dat­ing that play­ers be re­stricted to the num­ber of games played in any foot­ball sea­son.

There is many a prece­dent for this. The leg­endary foot­ball icon, Lindy De­lapenha, caused the hi­er­ar­chy of a con­cerned ISSA in the late ’40s to re­strict the num­ber of events a child could com­pete in at Champs,

which played a sig­nif­i­cant role in pre­serv­ing his health.

De­lapenha is alive and well to­day, after a pi­o­neer­ing role in get­ting play­ers of colour to play in the EPL.

The paucity of lo­cal school­boy ‘star’ play­ers go­ing on to rep­re­sent their coun­try can be traced to burnout and lost op­por­tu­ni­ties when foot­ball trumped scholas­tic study.

Other coun­tries have found in­ter­est­ing ways of man­dat­ing the num­ber of games chil­dren play in any one sea­son of a sport. We do not have to rein­vent the wheel. We owe it to our chil­dren.

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