ISSA boss stands by decision to allow KC’s Rodgers to participate

BY HOWARD WALKER Senior staff reporter

Friday, March 17, 2017

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President of ISSA Dr Walton Small explained that Ugandan Ari Rodgers failed two of the three eligibility criteria to participate at Champs, but his executives were convinced that enough efforts were made to get him in Jamaica on time, hence his acceptance through extenuating circumstances.

"When we listen to Mr Rodgers and see all that they went through, I think it would be inhumane not to allow a student like that not to participate," said Dr Small.

Ten of the 15 ISSA executives members of school principals attended the meeting a few weeks ago and eight voted in favour of allowing Rodgers to participate. One voted against and the other abstained.

Calabar High’s Principal Albert Corcho was not in attendance and his school showed their disapproval with a statement on Wednesday to the media, outlining several issues that they had with ISSA and not Kingston College.

Then on Thursday morning, a few members of the Calabar family staged a march to ISSA’s offices and handed over the Mortimer Geddes trophy a week ahead of schedule as a mark of protest against the decision.

Dr Small, who is the principal of Wolmer’s Boys’, was not amused with the stance taken by Calabar High School, citing that they, too, benefited a few years ago, after their team failed to meet the registration deadline to participate at Champs.

"I can tell you this, yes, we have and I will not share. But I was president, I oversaw a situation where Calabar had to ask us to look at the extenuating circumstances to allow them in," Dr Small said at the launch of the ISSA Boys and Girls Athletics Championships at the Spanish Court Hotel yesterday.

"Is that because their entry was late?" Dr Small was asked. "I will not go into the detail about that, but we oversaw that situation and we said, ‘Calabar will participate’. All of us voted because we felt there were extenuating circumstances. We have done it for many schools."

The issue festered over the last few weeks after ISSA gave the green light to Rodgers to represent Kingston College at the year’s athletics championships, and Dr Small explained ISSA’s decision.

"The young man (Rodgers) from KC is in our registration process, our system, we called it, flagged him for registration. For a student to participate right away coming from a non-member school or, in this case, a different country, the student needs to be under the age of 16. The student should be registered by September 30, and should have an attendance record of 80 per cent. We asked the school to send a letter of appeal," noted Dr Small.

"As is our practice, we have rules and regulations that govern participation in competitions by ISSA, but as we do every year for all competitions, if a school thinks that there are extenuating circumstances, they can make an appeal and we call an executive meeting together and deliberate... we felt that considering all that happened, that the young man should be allowed to participate," said Dr Small.

"What this means is that we would have waived the attendance and the deadline registration because we were convinced that enough effort was made to get the young man to Jamaica," Dr Small reiterated.

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