Last Friday’s hosting of the junior and senior division finals of the secondary schools’ football tournament, was one of the biggest injustices anyone could have done to an activity, which over the years, would have hold some pride of place on the national sporting calendar.
Save and except for the inter-secondary schools athletics championships, the schools’ football finals takes the next rung on the ladder of appeal.
However, the Ministry of Education has done it again and have short-changed the youngsters, and by extension, the education system, which is often touted to have been revolutionized.
So, when the authorities, in the planning of the schools’ football finals, erred in their administrative duties, and had to resort to the Campden Park Playing Field, it shows the scant respect these officials have for sports in the nation’s schools.
Reports are that the usual venue for the hosting of the final, the Victoria Park, was not booked, hence the Campden Park Playing Field was the next best option.
Those officials had more than drop the ball, as the Campden Park venue did not give the youngsters and the occasion any national sporting significance.
To put the four schools that came through the tournament as worthy finalists, on an uneven surface, coupled with no access to dressing room facilities, no security personnel in place, summed up the disrespect shown to the sport in the schools.
Additionally, the venue for the final created little atmosphere, thus relegating the event to just two football matches played in the schools’ calendar.
Such was the devaluation of the event that is was decided not to have the usual presentation ceremony.
It is only for the love of the youngsters that persons who report on sports journeyed to Campden Park last Friday afternoon, after learning of the finals only a few hours earlier.
But the scant respect was exhibited during the tournament, where there was no attempt to inform the populace of the matches and create any sort of publicity.
Let the truth be told, the events that resulted in the finals being held at that venue last Friday, simply epitomized the tournament; a tournament that was riddled with administrative kinks.
However, these burning issues which surfaced would be swept under the carpet.
This type of inept approach towards the students who play sports in our nation’s schools, has gone on without any type of punitive action.
Hence, those who are inflicting that callous treatment to the youngsters are happily made to submit their reports on the various competitions, as a matter of duty.
As it has been for some time now; no analysis nor evaluation, as the template is repeated at the next hosting.
It would be the same officials who in term two, when it’s track and field, who will be performing their puppet-type duties, and expect that the Athletics championships would be a hit.
For certain, those officials who were nowhere to be found last Friday, would be taking up their various portfolios when it is time for the inter-schools’ championships.
They would be conspicuous, with their official jerseys and other paraphernalia at large.
This column, more than any, has for the better part of the last five years, been bemoaning the state of schools’ sports, yet the pleas have fallen on deaf ears.
The treatment meted out to the nation’s youths by the highly remunerated officials in the Ministry of Education, should not be permitted to continue.
It would be those same officials who would castigate the young people who turn to deviant ways.
Are they going to look at themselves in the mirror and acknowledge that they are contributing to some of the hopelessness that the youths display?
This lack of care for many of the youths’ lone lifeline – sports, has to be ordered in a different direction.
It would then be pointless to really and truly embark on a nation-wide sports against crime campaign, when what is taking place in schools’ sports are clear incidences of crime against sports.
But the recurring decimal of disregard and disinterest that shows up every year with schools’ sports, (expect track and field) must be addressed in a wholesome manner.
Reports are that some of the schools’ principals, cognizant of what is taking place, are prepared to make a greater input in the staging of the various competitions, albeit in a phased manner.
At least this is a start, but action must follow and must be immediate, as talk and ambition would not cut it.