Stadium ComplexCommentary by Michael Bascombe

In about five (5) months or 20 weeks, track and field athletes from Secondary Schools in Grenada will compete at the Annual Inter-Secondary Schools’ Athletics Championships.

It may well be the final championships staged on a grass track and under challenging conditions.

The field events will be held on the Tanteen grounds on March 20, 2015 while the track events are scheduled for the cricket stadium, March 25 and 26.

The Grenada Association of Principals of Secondary Schools (GAPSS), headed by Dominic Jeremiah, should be encouraged that a modern stadium could be at their disposal starting in 2016.

However, the Jeremiah-led committee has to begin the process of overhauling the premier track and field championship in Grenada.

It’s all well and good to have 5,000 and more spectators cheering the athletes but equally important is the development of the athletes and the sport.

This writer has been advocating for better organisation of “Inter-Col” including the inclusion of more events to reflect other junior track and field meets especially the Boys & Girls Champs in Jamaica and the CARIFTA Games which Grenada will host in 2016.

The Principals have been organising the school games for more than two decades and there are few changes to their credit. There have been numerous recommendations submitted in the past to revamp the Inter-Col but generally the Principals have refused to consider.

Grenada has won more medals in the boys’ heptathlon at the CARIFTA Games more than any other participating nation. Yet the event is not part of the school or inter-col programme.

Kurt Felix, the 2012 NCAA Decathlon champion and 2014 Commonwealth Games’ bronze medallist and his brother Lindon Victor are recent examples of Grenada’s potential.

In 2015, the Inter-Secondary Schools’ Athletics Championships will celebrate its Golden Jubilee. But there is little or no archiving – digital or otherwise – to preserve the rich history of these championships which have produced some of our outstanding athletes – past and present.

Against this backdrop, I am suggesting for the Principals’ consideration, the establishment of a permanent and central secretariat to administer Secondary School Sports including athletics, basketball, cricket, football, netball, swimming and tennis, among others.

Sponsorship and broadcast rights should be taken into consideration under a revamped system involving the Ministries of Sports and Education and the National Associations. Every sponsor wants to be associated with the Inter-Col athletics but few in netball or cricket.

Likewise, the media coverage of the less popular sports is an area of concern and the organisers need to create a balance with broadcast rights, starting with Inter-Col athletics.

Officials should also consider the inclusion of pole vault, hurdles, heptathlon and pentathlon and possibly medley relays in schools and inter-col programmes.

So as sports continue to grow in Grenada, it does so in large part because of the great example of dedicated sportsmen and women, administrators and fans.

But those in charge need to change their mindset about revamping, reforming and redesigning the status quo.

This is the moment to define what school sports in Grenada will look like. It’s an opportunity to set the conditions for the future. The decisions that are made now, will determine whether or not we set the stage for future Kirani James, Kurt Felix, Anderson Peters or Meleni Rodney, recent products of the system.

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Opinion Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the columnist and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of GrenadaSports.

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