Approximately J$17 million will be invested in the 34th INSPORTS/Seprod Primary Schools Athletics Championship, officially launched today at the National Indoor Sports Centre.
Title sponsor Seprod is bankrolling more than two-thirds of that amount, donating J$10 million with the remainder offset in kind over the four-day event, which starts May 6 through to May 10 at the National Stadium.
Associate sponsors Facey Commodity through their Eve and Miracle brands, and T. Geddes Grant, have also donated J$150,000 each to a programme that has been the cradle of development for Seprod’s Brand Ambassador Olympian Warren Weir, who was among several noted officials in attendance.
While commending Seprod for their continued support to the programme for the last decade, “primary champs is where many of our star athletes started their journey,” said Don Anderson, chairman of the Institute of Sports (INSPORTS), a state agency responsible for grassroots sport.
“Each year at the Seprod Group, we are excited to bring this championship to children in schools because we want them to realize their dreams and provide a forum which unearths their God-given talents. Our young boys and girls at the primary level of the education system are special,” said Marcia Kitson-Walters, sales and marketing manager, Seprod. “They are the foundation and we need to nurture and support them in these critical developmental years, if they are to truly maximize their potential.”
In the last few years the event has attracted several schools and this year was not an exception, as 95 institutions are confirmed – up from the 74 that participated last year. Fifteen schools will be competing for the first time, while many others are making a return after a long absence.
Once again Seprod will be offering the champion boy and champion girl full scholarship for their entire high school years, while the breakfast programme for all 4200 athletes will continue as well.
“At Seprod, when we invest in our youth we see it as an investment in the future of our nation,” said the Seprod manager.
Fourth Vice president of the Jamaica Administrative Association of Athletics (JAAA) Vilma Charlton, urges particularly coaches to remain abreast with scientific developments in athletics especially nutrition.
“Teacher, coaches, let us pay closer attention o the nutrition of our student-athletes. Everybody is talking supplements but what about making greater attempts to encourage athletes into eating right? Let us encourage our athletes to go back to the some of our basic Jamaican foods which are very nutritious. Encourage them to eat lots of sugar cane, the molasses which has loads of iron, coconut water for potassium, and all that calaloo which is easy to cultivate. Let us all go back to the guavas, plums cherries which has loads of vitamin C. Research has shown that our country’s foreign exchange bill for American apples is very high so eat Jamaica fruits instead,” said Charlton an Olympian.
She highlighted how physical education and sport is now a priority subject across the Caribbean and “recently they have hastily developed a programme at the CAPE level,” because it “offers many career paths such as sports law, marketing, nutrition, journalism”.
There will be no activity, however, on May 7, in respect of Teachers’ Day, but the traditional opening ceremony will be held at 3:00 pm on Friday, May 9.
The last five hours of the event on fourth and final day will be televised live on CVM Television for the second year running.
Each day activities start at 8:30 am and closes at approximately5:00 pm, except on the final day which is projected to end an hour later.
Tickets, which can be purchased at the gate, will be sold for the first two days at $200 and $400 for children and adults respectively. While the cost for children remains the same throughout, adults are required to pay $500 to enter the stadium on the penultimate and final days.
A total of 38 events are contested each year over the four-day period, with Naggo Head aiming for a sixth successive title.
A sixth title for Naggo Head will make them joint second on the all-time list with Rousseau Primary, four less behind leaders Waterford.