Kingston, Jamaica – Imagine a miniature version of Boys & Girls Champs being staged annually inside the National Stadium.
Well, such an idea might soon become a reality in few years time, as according to noted track and field administrator Don Anderson talks have already begun exploring the idea.
Anderson, who is the Chairman of state agency Institute of Sports, made the disclosure this afternoon during the opening ceremony of the 36th INSPORTS Junior High & All-Age Athletics Championship in progress at the National Stadium.
“Plans are afoot to merge the junior high and primary schools championships into one large all-island meet for children of these ages,” Anderson stated. “And we are looking forward to the very first edition very shortly.”
“We intend at INSPORTS to ensure that as many schools as possible participate in this larger championship, and for this reason we begin plans building towards that,” he added before declaring the event open.
In its present format both Junior High & All-Age and Primary Championships are largely all-comers events with more than 75 per cent of these schools never participating.
This year’s Junior High championship has seen a slight reduction in the number of institutions taking part, due to a gradual phasing out process by the Ministry of Education.
Students at the primary school level within these junior high or all-age institutions are usually deny competition until they get to first form.
But the evolution of what was originally competitions for Corporate Area schools, now requires a paradigm shift with the best athletes at this age level across the entire country competing on the grandest stage, replicating the high school phenomenon ‘Champs’.
The Institute of Sports has been the sole financier of Junior High & All-Age Champs over the years, and their commitment Anderson noted, must be lauded.
“At a time when resources are very, very limited INSPORTS recognizes that this is one of the foundations on which our very rich history and our performance at the very highest level at the Olympics, is actually established.
“INSPORTS was able to put together some three million dollars to ensure that this competition was run this year,” said the INSPORTS Chairman.
Anderson remains hopeful that other sponsors will come on board next year, while urging the athletes to give of their very best, so Corporate Jamaica will be convinced to invest in the programme.
Meantime, Anthony Ewbanks insists on the athletes to make use of the opportunity sport presents.
Speaking on behalf of the Inter-Secondary Sport Schools Association (ISSA), Ewbanks told the competitors: “it’s not too early to think track and field as a career.”
In recognizing the importance of track and field, Ewbanks who is the principal of Innswood High School in St Catherine, commended the contribution of principals, coaches, parents, the Ministry of Sport and INSPORTS.
“This is how they contribute directly to the sport development,” Ewbanks said of all the stakeholders.
Throughout the years this event has produced two notable Olympians in Kerron Stewart and Markino Buckley.
Stewart won the silver and bronze in the 100m and 200m finals respectively at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China, while Buckley finished seventh in the 400m hurdles final at the said Games.