Western Ja-based coaches want boys and girls to compete on same days at Champs

Observer West writer

Thursday, October 22, 2020

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MONTEGO BAY, St James -Most track and field coaches across the western region agree that if an extra day is added to the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) Boys' and Girls' Athletics Championships (Champs), it could help to minimise the spread of the coronavirus.

At the same time, the coaches disagreed with separating the genders, and having the championships over two consecutive weeks— four days for the boys and four for the girls.

In a poll following a recent virtual meeting of the County of Cornwall Athletics Association (COCAA), the organisers of high schools track and field in western Jamaica, just under 70 per cent of the coaches agreed that a sixth day to the event would be beneficial.

The majority of them, however — mostly those coaching at co-educational schools — voiced their disagreement with separating the genders as roughly 58 per cent voted against the separation, while only 38.5 per cent were in favour of it.

“Separating the two championships would be expensive for us,” said Michael McIntosh of Green Island High. “We have to look at the economics of things and it would stretch most schools' budgets.”

Additionally, McIntosh pointed out that leaving one of their teams unsupervised, while attending Champs would be counterproductive, arguing that “the last week before Champs is critical to the entire process and the athletes can't be left alone, and most, if not all schools, don't have that big a staff to make sure both teams are completely covered.”

After cancelling the championships in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic, ISSA is seeking to put on the championships next year, and has started consultations by asking regional coaches to meet and make suggestions as to how the event could be held safely.

Most of the western-based schools had agreed that Champs 2021 should be held, if the conditions allow, and most had said they would participate.

World Athletics, the global governing body for the sport, had earlier this year announced a raft of measures that should be adhered to, if track and field meets are to be held, and the local body, the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA), has adopted most of them, which were later sent out in a document.

Most sporting activities have ground to a halt since the first case of the coronavirus was discovered on the island in March.

ISSA called off all their competitions in March and then extended the ban to the Christmas term, while the Jamaica Football Association also pulled the plug on all organised football across the island.

Since then, and with the permission of the Ministry of Health and Wellness, a number of sporting activities have restarted. The MVP Track Club, for example, has since staged a number of development meets, while several golf tournaments have been held.

Additionally, the Jamaica Golf Association has announced plans for the staging of the Open at Tryall in December. However, plans by the Jamaica Football Federation to restart the Premier League football competition in November seem unlikely.

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