When the Inter- Secondary Schools Athletics Championships (ISSAC) culminated last week Friday, April 8 at the Sir Vincent Beache Stadium at Diamond, there were some schools which were noticeably absent.
Their non- participation raised concerns in some quarters with persons claiming that it was a denial of students’ opportunities to display their athletics talents.
SEARCHLIGHT sought to ascertain from principals the reason/s why their schools opted out of ISSAC, but some were reluctant to respond.
However, the principal of the Georgetown Secondary School, Ronald Clarke provided an explanation for his school’s non-involvement.
“It was nothing cynical… our non- participation was simple; when we met with the Ministry of Education, as it relates to our principal’s meeting, when the question of sports was raised, we were told there won’t have been no Inter- Schools Sports for this year… Schools were advised that they can organize their Inter- House sporting activities”, Clarke related.
Underscoring the need for academics to take precedence, Clarke said : “We took a conscious decision, because we would have lost so much during the period, that we would focus on our academics and cut back on the [majority] of our sporting activities because a number of our students were disadvantaged as it relates to the online platforms as many of them were struggling.”
Clarke was quick to highlight that the school’s decision not to compete in ISSAC would have affected some of its budding athletes, among them Shonte Matthias, who will compete in the Carifta Games this weekend in the Female Under-17 100 and 200m in Jamaica.
Setting aside the loss in opportunities for the athletes, Clarke said that situation looked bleak for those students who are sitting external examinations, hence the decision to forgo full scale involvement in sports.
As a means of hosting some sporting activities, Clarke revealed: “ We had two days of relay classics, some Inter- House cricket and volleyball, just to create some form of normalcy.”
He said further even if the school had organised their Inter- House competition, “we could not have selected a team for the Inter- Schools Championships”.
Other than the Georgetown Secondary School, the St Joseph’s Convent, Kingstown and Marriaqua; George Stephens Senior Secondary; Union Island Secondary; Emmanuel High School, Mesopotamia; and the Dr JP Eustace Memorial Secondary School were some of the visible absentees.
There were no championships in 2020 and 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic. The all clear for the hosting of both championships was given in a circular dated 9th March, 2022.
Apart from the non- participation of schools in ISSAC, some schools were also absent from the Inter- Primary Schools Championships which were held on April 7.
Heats for the primary schools were set for April 22-24 but due to an insufficient number of entries they were scaled down to two days.