Screen them!

ISSA to make thor­ough med­i­cal checks manda­tory

Jamaica Gleaner - - SPORTS - Gleaner Writer

WEST­ERN BUREAU: HE MAN who heads the pow­er­ful high-school sports gov­ern­ing body, the In­terSe­condary School Sports As­so­ci­a­tion (ISSA), Dr Wal­ton Small, said that med­i­cal screen­ing of stu­dent ath­letes un­der its aus­pices will be made manda­tory as of the 2017 sports sea­son.

Small was among a group of dig­ni­taries and of­fi­cials present for a spe­cial de­vo­tion at the Spot Val­ley High School in Mon­tego Bay yes­ter­day morn­ing to re­flect upon the life of the school’s 17-year-old bas­ket­baller Say­mar Ram­say, who died of an ap­par­ent heart at­tack on Fri­day.

“I am not sure what he died from, but we sus­pect his heart gave in; if that is con­firmed, then it’s more ur­gent than ever that we start se­ri­ous screen­ing of our stu­dent ath­letes,” in­sisted Small.

“If you are go­ing to be in­volved in any ISSA-run sport­ing dis­ci­plines, a strin­gent and thor­ough med­i­cal screen­ing will have to be­come manda­tory. It can’t be just the or­di­nary med­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion to par­tic­i­pate,” he told The Gleaner.

TRam­say’s pass­ing is the sec­ond death of a sim­i­lar na­ture af­ter that of prom­i­nent St Ge­orge’s Col­lege Man­ning Cup foot­ball team cap­tain, Do­minic James, who col­lapsed dur­ing a Man­ning Cup match last month.

Like James, Ram­say was pro­nounced dead at hospi­tal, leav­ing his fam­ily, school and sport­ing fra­ter­nity in deep sor­row.

Small said that a meet­ing be­tween ISSA and var­i­ous prin­ci­pals was held fol­low­ing James’ death where guide­lines were given for med­i­cal screen­ing to be­come manda­tory.

In ad­di­tion, Small, who is also the prin­ci­pal at Wolmer’s Boys’ School, dis­closed that of­fi­cials from ISSA will this week be meet­ing with of­fi­cials of the Na­tional Health Fund (NHF), with the aim of work­ing out a bi­lat­eral agree­ment.

The agree­ment, he said, will be an im­por­tant de­vel­op­ment in ISSA’s drive to as­sist fam­i­lies in off­set­ting cost for the med­i­cal screen­ings, with­out which, stu­dents will not be al­lowed to par­tic­i­pate in any of the ISSA-run sports com­pe­ti­tions.

MORE NEEDS TO BE DONE

Ac­cord­ing to Small, much more has to be done to safe­guard the lives of stu­dent ath­letes, and that his or­gan­i­sa­tion has al­ready sig­nalled its in­ten­tion of do­ing so, with the change of ap­proach.

Ram­say was a mem­ber of the Spot Val­ley High Un­der-19 bas­ket­ball squad. He scored his team’s first two bas­kets in Fri­day’s los­ing cause against Corn­wall Col­lege, and later died at the Hospiten Med­i­cal Cen­ter in Rose Hall, Mon­tego Bay.

Jerry Gal­loway, Dervin Brown and Alex Ex­cell, three of his clos­est squad mates, said his death has cast a long shadow over the rest of their sea­son. Say­mar Ram­say (right) of Spot Val­ley High tries to block the pass­ing route for Corn­wall Col­lege’s Ryan White in one of his last games for the school’s Un­der-19 bas­ket­ball squad re­cently. Ram­say died of a heart at­tack last Fri­day at hospi­tal.

“He was such a quiet and hum­ble per­son­al­ity. He was, to me, the most hum­ble stu­dent here at Spot Val­ley High. The team will miss him greatly. We are sad­dened; he was a brother to all of us,” said Gal­loway, as he fought back tears.

Re­cently, Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, the min­is­ter of sports, told Par­lia­ment that dis­cus­sions will be ini­ti­ated with the Min­istry of Health and the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion, In­for­ma­tion and Youth to re­view pol­icy guide­lines to bet­ter pro­tect stu­dent ath­letes.

The task force will mon­i­tor and en­force stan­dards and best prac­tices in re­la­tion to the par­tic­i­pa­tion of chil­dren in sports.

RI­CARDO MAKYN/STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

PHOTO BY PAUL CLARKE

SMALL

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