LAST WEEK, St Vincent and the Grenadines experienced three days of track and field action at the Arnos Vale Playing Field.
In what has become a trilogy of events, the Inter-Primary Athletics Championships (IPSAC), the Inter-Secondary Schools’ Athletics Championships (ISSAC) and the St Vincent and the Grenadines Community College inter-faculty track meet, were staged Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, respectively.
The three days are the high points of the levels of this country’s education ladder, and get the most focus.
The overall assessment was that there were not enough wow moments, as there seems not to be a sustained effort to have consistent returns, in terms of performances.
And, setting aside the low-keyed build up to three championships, save and except the unbridled passion which exists among the primary school students, that extra zip to excel was absent.
In fact, one got the impression that in the case of the ISSAC and the SVGCC’s activity, some athletes were simply going through the motion.
Even among some of the country’s most promising athletes, there was not that evident desire to better their times and distances of previous.
In some cases, personal goals and achievement therefore loomed large, as champing one’s respective age category, seemingly was the greater achievement, rather than setting the venue alight with times that would be compatible with others in the region.
As it stood, the final team scores in the IPSAC and ISSAC point to reasons for a deeper look at what is taking place.
In winning IPSAC, Stephanie Browne Primary School had 253 points, Kingstown Preparatory, 206 and the CW Prescod Primary was third on 170 points, which showed a bit of keenness among the top three schools.
However, in both the male and female divisions of ISSAC, there was a big gulf between the first and second places.
The St Vincent Grammar School, in copping the male division for an eighth straight time, tallied 376 points and the next best was the St Martin’s Secondary on 208.
There was a difference of 168 points between the two.
Meanwhile, Central Leeward Secondary’s win in the female division was by 145 points, as they compiled 365 to Thomas Saunders’ 220.
There are many factors which may have contributed to this type of disparity.
The variances in the student populations; the interest and acceptance of principals in track and field, the fervour, training and knowledge of the physical education teachers; the quality of the physical education programme, as well as the availability of resources and the pure athletes who are enrolled at the various schools, are just some of the factors which affect, in one way or the other, the quality of the performances.
What though is critical is that this should not be the norm with a premier schools’ track and field meet.
Each of the three athletics championships is impactful, as they form a continuum and what occurs at the championships eventually comes to the fore when St Vincent and the Grenadines’ athletes are asked to compete at the Windward Islands Schools’ Games.
It is pointless to boast that we have successful championships, and all we can take away from them are their hosting.
In reversing what is occurring, first up, St Vincent and the Grenadines has to fix that problem, as we are some distance behind in the firming up of physical education in the primary schools, hence the task to get students ready for the secondary programme is compounded.
No longer are athletes reeled off through the processes of socialisation, added, track and field, like other sporting discipline, has become a science, hence, to optimise students’ returns, capturing their talent at an early age is key.
Similarly, the governing body for track and field in this country, Team Athletics SVG has to rethink its strategies of building the sport, as what obtains in training is not cutting it.
Yes, whilst track and field in the schools is under the aegis of the Ministry of Education, Team Athletics SVG has to be the lead runner in mapping out a track towards a sustainable future.
Too, our various schools, especially the secondary institutions, have to play their part in forming alumni organisations, which can offset the deficiencies present, and at the same time, build that pride, and ultimately, a better outlook of track and field.
So we have noticed what hard work did for Stephanie Browne Primary, as they have crept up slowly on the previous champions, and have been installed as 2019 kings and queens, doing so with some authority.
Champions are not necessarily born, but can be created through hard work and dedication.