Re­cruit re­spon­si­bly

Jamaica Gleaner - - SPORTS -

Wolmer’s Boys play­ers Yan­nick El­liot (left) and An­drew Da­ley cel­e­brate a goal against Lit­tle Lon­don High in their re­cent ISSA/FLOW Su­per Cup en­counter at Sabina Park re­cently. Wolmer’s won 6-0.

THERE SEEMS to be a stigma at­tached to schools that fa­cil­i­tate their ad­vance in sport­ing en­deav­ours by a par­tic­u­lar type of re­cruit­ing. This strat­egy, by no means new, in­volves at­tract­ing stu­dent ath­letes who were brought to recog­ni­tion else­where in the sys­tem. The ob­jec­tive is to en­hance the progress or suc­cess on the play­ing fields of the re­ceiv­ing in­sti­tu­tion. It is said, and not with­out jus­ti­fi­ca­tion, that there are mon­e­tary gains that ac­crue to the fa­cil­i­ta­tors, who have de­ci­sive in­puts in swing­ing the deals. A re­cent post on so­cial medi, saw a prom­i­nent and cur­rently high-per­form­ing Kingston school, hav­ing its name tar­nished as their foot­ball team has been as­sem­bled by sev­eral “raids” con­ducted at other schools. The la­bel given them was St Wol­bar (mean­ing: the re­cruited play­ers were drawn from St Jago and Cal­abar). This speaks in sten­to­rian terms to what is now be­ing man­i­fested among the schools.

Foster’s Fair­play, hav­ing first op­posed, and later agreed with col­league and friend, for­mer na­tional foot­ball rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Dr Lascelve ‘Muggy’ Gra­ham, has taken an­other look. The for­mer bril­liant St Ge­orge’s Col­lege ball han­dler, re­mains firm in the view that ad­mis­sion to high school should have a dis­tinct aca­demic bias. Any other tal­ent should find a home away from the lab­o­ra­to­ries and study rooms of learn­ing en­vi­rons. Never should the abil­ity to in­flu­ence a sport­ing out­come be con­sid­ered.

This colum­nist has de­vel­oped some em­pa­thy for the prac­tice, for which the doc­tor has lit­tle or no time, how­ever, there needs to be an es­tab­lished tem­plate for this cross-fer­til­i­sa­tion, which must be set in the in­ter­est of all con­cerned. What must be fore­most in the mind of the rel­e­vant par­ties is the fu­ture of the young boy or girl. It is ideal that both the aca­demic and sport­ing po­ten­tial of the in­di­vid­ual are con­sid­ered, so once the switch is com­pleted, there must be equal at­tempts to ad­dress both as­pects. This colum­nist is aware of pro­grammes where if the per­for­mance on the field of play does not live up to ex­pec­ta­tions, there is a to­tal sep­a­ra­tion from the new school. This should not be.


In such a case, even if not pre­vi­ously in place, there must be an ef­fort to up­grade aca­demic skills to bring them closer and hope­fully aligned with what is re­quired in the class­room. When­ever this is not done, those re­spon­si­ble for the trans­fer would have failed mis­er­ably in their bid to steer a life in an ac­cept­able or pos­i­tive di­rec­tion.

The coun­try is be­dev­iled by ram­pant and rag­ing crime. The au­thor­i­ties seem to be at their wits’ end to stem, much less to stul­tify this scourge. To vir­tu­ally aban­don a young life be­cause he or she does not meet the re­quire­ments in an area of an­other’s choice will not pro­vide the re­me­dial so­lu­tions that are be­ing sought, and which are now of na­tional con­cern.

An­other grow­ing prob­lem is that a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of de­vel­op­ing sport­ing tal­ent is not steered to­wards the out­let that of­fers the best op­por­tu­nity for fur­ther ad­vance. Many are the young­sters who, given the lack of at­ten­tion, fall by the way­side, end­ing up in the precipice of the tal­ented but for­got­ten. The fail­ure to mas­ter the arts and the sciences ought not to be a recipe for aban­don­ment and to­tal re­jec­tion. There must be a bet­ter way to up­lift our chil­dren and not al­low them to fol­low the wrong paths.

The In­terse­condary Schools Sports As­so­ci­a­tion (ISSA) has a des­ig­nated role here. The or­gan­i­sa­tion has lim­it­ing reg­u­la­tions to ad­dress the is­sue, but more are needed and the ex­e­cu­tion must be strictly mon­i­tored and rigidly en­forced. The United States col­le­giate sys­tem with its at­ten­dant rules and ad­min­is­tra­tion may pro­vide good ex­am­ples.

Let the re­cruit­ing con­tinue, but at the same time, the school sys­tem should pro­vide a more fer­tile path­way for our ath­letes to make the tran­si­tion to the na­tional level.


ORVILLE BUR­RELL aka Shaggy is a Ja­maican who has gar­nered many awards and fans for his mu­sic. What res­onated with me, how­ever, is his re­lent­less drive to as­sist the chil­dren of Ja­maica through his foun­da­tion, which has vir­tu­ally adopted the In­ten­sive care Unit of the Bus­ta­mante Hospi­tal for Chil­dren. His hit song, It Wasn’t Me has un­for­tu­nately be­come mor­phed into the an­them of adults and of­fi­cials when­ever there is a re­port of tragic abuse of the na­tions young. A child is shot in the back of a taxi, and af­ter five years of sup­posed in­ves­ti­ga­tions and gath­er­ing of in­for­ma­tion in or­der to iden­tify the per­son, who fired the fa­tal shot, we are left with of­fi­cials scram­bling to re­spond to the an­gry back­lash of cit­i­zens, who de­mand jus­tice; “IT WASN’T ME”. Chil­dren on the way to school, at school, rep­re­sent­ing the school in ex­tra cur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­ity, go­ing home from school, are beaten, robbed, drowned, shot, and drop dead, and the an­swer from those tasked with the care and pro­tec­tion of our chil­dren:”It wasn’t me”. The fol­low-up ques­tion there­fore is: “Then who is re­spon­si­ble?”

On Fri­day, Novem­ber 4, a 16-year-old Ja­maican school­boy, af­ter rep­re­sent­ing his school in a bas­ket­ball match, col­lapsed while be­ing trans­ported from the game. He was rushed to a nearby hospi­tal, where he was pro­nounced dead! Me­dia re­ports from the school com­mu­nity are that he died of a heartre­lated con­di­tion. Af­ter the un­timely and tragic demise of the cap­tain of the St. Ge­orge’s Col­lege’s foot­ball cap­tain, Do­minic James, there was a flurry of ac­tiv­ity, all geared to not pre­vent, but to re­duce the pos­si­bil­ity of fu­ture oc­cur­rences and to iden­tify and train of­fi­cials at the Inter Sec­ondary Schools Sports As­so­ci­a­tion (ISSA) – con­trolled sport­ing events, who can ini­ti­ate a mean­ing­ful re­sponse geared at sus­tain­ing life. ISSA has ar­ranged meet­ings with prin­ci­pals, where a prepar­tic­i­pa­tion eval­u­a­tion (PPE) for all chil­dren in­volved in ISSA su­per­vised sports was mooted to be made manda­tory and prin­ci­pals are en­cour­aged to en­sure that stretch­ers and other vi­tal and nec­es­sary equip­ment and trained per­son­nel are present at their events. Yet tragedies con­tinue.


I do not know if any or all of the stu­dents at the school where the 16-year-old bas­ket­ball player at­tended had PPEs or if ar­range­ments were made to have this im­por­tant med­i­cal in­ter­ven­tion done. What I do know is that the Heart Foun­da­tion of Ja­maica, the Heart In­sti­tute of the Caribbean and other con­cerned med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als have come on board in con­junc­tion with ISSA to tackle this prob­lem. Ja­maica Bickle, a group of Ja­maicans in the USA have do­nated 15 au­to­mated ex­ter­nal de­fib­ril­la­tors (AED’s) and of­fered train­ing in how to use this equip­ment, and some (not all) schools have ac­tively be­gun pro­grammes to iden­tify chil­dren at risk for car­diac-re­lated events, while in­volved in sports.

A PPE con­sists of a stan­dard ques­tion­naire, to be com­pleted with the stu­dent ath­lete and a par­ent or guardian, who knows the child, an­swer­ing the ques­tions to­gether, a com­pre­hen­sive ex­am­i­na­tion that in­cludes Blood tests (he­mo­glo­bin, blood sugar and


choles­terol lev­els), urine tests,vi­sion tests, elec­tro­car­dio­grams (ECG’s) and an ex­am­i­na­tion by a med­i­cal pro­fes­sional. ECGs with un­usual trac­ings are re­ferred to a con­sul­tant car­di­ol­o­gist, who will de­ter­mine if the child needs a car­diac echogram or other tests to de­ter­mine if the child is at risk for a car­diac event, while play­ing sports. At the Heart Foun­da­tion of Ja­maica, this PPE is avail­able to any child in­volved in ISSA con­trolled sports at a re­duced fee of J$2,500. If the child can­not at­tend at the of­fices of the foun­da­tion (on Beechwood Av­enue in Kingston) the foun­da­tion will go to the school re­quest­ing as­sis­tance, with the nec­es­sary equip­ment and ex­perts to con­duct the PPE!

There is sim­ply no rea­son­able ex­cuse why our young peo­ple in­volved in school re­lated ac­tiv­ity should not be screened to iden­tify those at risk. We owe it to our chil­dren. Let us stop blam­ing chil­dren. Let us stop mouthing Shaggy’s hit song:” it wasn’t me”. Let us stand up and ac­cept the fact that chil­dren on their way to school, at school, and on their way home from school, ARE the re­spon­si­bil­ity of adults, who are paid to do their job! We can­not go on like this!


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