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False start!

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Pack it in, scrap it, regroup, re-organise, get your house in order and wheel and come again next year.

That is the advice to the organizers of the planned revived Zonal Primary Schools Athletics Championships.{{more}}

There have been many false starts for the young primary school athletes and teachers who were looking forward to the championships.

Indeed for me, the championships held high anticipation, but what unfolded before my eyes last week Wednesday, March 9, at the Grammar School Playing Field, as heats for some of the schools in the Kingstown area was nothing more than pathetic and a perfect example of colossal inefficiency and neglect.

What appeared to be nothing more than a normal Games event for one of the grades in our schools passed off as a qualifying round.

And, reports are that the Brighton preliminaries were done in similar fashion.

Qualification races were absent of timers, spotters and the like. Instead, they were overseen by personnel from the Division of Physical Education and Sports, with teachers and some parental involvement. It was farcical and an injustice to the schools which participated.

Those in authority cannot deceive the youngsters, as they know when things are organised, and most of all, when they are not.

It may be this apparent disorganization why several of the schools do not see the event worthy of participation, as the Ministry of Education failed miserably to stamp its authority on the championships by giving credence to its staging.

Admittedly, there were some marked improvements in one of the subsequent staging of the other preliminaries among other Kingstown schools, which I was privileged to observe. But first impressions are lasting.

The Ministry of Education and the Division of Physical Education and Sports, therefore, missed the boat, and also failed to ride on the momentum and energy that the Team Athletics SVG’s regular Saturday meets generated, as many primary school athletes formed the core of the active participants.

Schools, especially from the north of the island, are the ones which carry the drive among the Under-14 catchment of promising athletes. These would be the ones most hurt from anything that is watered down, as clearly, emerging talents are nested in that locale.

Additionally, at this time, there is a crest of enthusiasm, as several of the primary schools have just completed their inter-house championships or are in the process of doing so.

The whole affair was another case in which a Ministry of Education oriented event was left to the whims, fancies and interests of principals. As it is, if there are principals who are for an event, there is widespread participation and zeal, instead of them adhering to a policy decision handed down by their superiors.

Some principals see sports as only of nuisance value, but will gladly give glowing tributes of their inputs when their athletes perform well.

Aiding the relative indifference to the championships, there is the feeling that there was a breakdown in the lines communication between the organizers and the potential participating schools.

Or is it that the relations between the two ministries are once more strained, causing the lukewarm response? If the latter is the case, how long will we allow this to go for another episode in the personality serial?

But that has been the way sports in general is viewed in the primary schools.

There are schools without designated “Games teachers” or anyone charged with the responsibility for carrying out such duties. And, to those in authority that is no significant issue.

Policy makers need to realize that for some of the primary school students, sports and more so Track and Field will be the only thing that they will excel in during their stay at their particular institutions.

Those in charge for certain will endeavour to save face and go ahead with the staging of the championships, but the opportunity has already been missed to create a positive and lasting impression on the fertile minds of the youth population at the many primary schools across St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Everyone advocates the need to get primary schools going, but the corresponding actions are not commensurate with the talks.

No false start for the call for the complete removal of the Mound at the Sion Hill Playing Field.