COCAA calls for development meets before Champs


COCAA calls for development meets before Champs

Observer West writer

Thursday, October 15, 2020

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The County of Cornwall Athletics Association (COCAA) has called on national sporting bodies, including the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) and the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA), to stage more development meets in the lead up to the ISSA National Boys' and Girls' Athletics Championships (“Champs”) next year.

COCAA, the organisers of high school track and field meets in western Jamaica, who has called for the “levelling of the field”, is urging the JAAA, ISSA and the Sports Development Foundation (SDF) to stage meets at the venues with all-weather tracks so that athletes from regions that don't have the facility can get adequate practice leading up to Champs.

COCAA is also calling for more meets each weekend, as many as four, up from the regular two meets that are held each weekend, to avoid overcrowding at any one venue. The association also wants more schools to be given the option of competing on synthetic tracks.

“We have to ask for more meets on the [all- weather tracks] we have not been able to access the track here in western Jamaica and we have to travel every weekend to get the chance for our athletes to compete and we are going to see a lot of meets that are over-subscribed, so they need to think about putting in more meets so all the athletes, not just those in Kingston, will have the chance to compete on the track before we get to Champs,” said Roderick Myles, head coach of the Rusea's High team during a recent virtual meeting held by COCAA.

ISSA had suggested the meeting in an effort to get feedback from the four regions as to whether Champs 2021 should be held.

Following a recent virtual meeting held by COCAA, almost 85 per cent of the coaches polled agreed that Champs 2021 should be held, just under 70 per cent asked for modifications to the present format, taking COVID-19 protocols into consideration, and just over 96 per cent said the national bodies should sponsor or run the meets.

Champs 2020 was called off two weeks before the start date in March, just days after the discovery of the first COVID-19 case on the island.

A spike in cases and deaths since then have forced ISSA to cancel all high school sporting events that were to be held this term football, netball, boys basketball and swimming.

The western coaches agree that if they and others from central and eastern Jamaica were to compete only on the grass tracks in the regions, it would be a disadvantage to their athletes who would be competing against athletes in the Corporate Area who would have access to the synthetic tracks.

Seven of the eight all-weather tracks in the country are in the Kingston and St Andrew area, with the other located at GC Foster in Angels, St Catherine.

The lone all-weather track in the island, outside of the south-east region, is at the Montego Bay Sports Complex, but that has not been used for the last two seasons, as it has been deemed unsafe for track and field.

The Mondo track was laid in 2002 and has not been repaired or replaced since and is badly worn in some areas and hard as concrete in other areas.

As a result, several track meets that used to be held at the Montego Bay venue have had to be moved to other venues, with the Milo Western Relays and the Council of Community Colleges track and field championships being held at GC Foster, while Western Championships was moved to the dirt track at the St Elizabeth Technical Sports Complex in Santa Cruz.

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