Intercol a vehicle for transition
This is the second instalment of a two-part series. Part One was published on Tuesday.
IMPROVED facilities are essential areas that requires immediate attention.
The increase in medals won bears some relationship to the growth of our collegiate programme pioneered by Dennis Johnson of UTech Jamaica, who boldly proclaimed in 1971 that world record-holders and Olympic champions can be developed locally and focused his efforts on coaching university students.
Our collegiate programme provides the vehicle by which our high school students can transition to the elite level while accessing university training. The local universities are now playing a role similar to that of the American universities many years ago.
UTech Jamaica pioneered the development of the local collegiate programme and are now joined by GC Foster College of Physical Education, University of the West Indies, Mona, and more recently, The Mico University.
The high school system has been an excellent source for developing junior athletes; however, for too long the number of excellent juniors who made the transition to the elite level has been too small. The expansion of collegiate sports is an ideal platform to provide a feeder programme for all our national teams.
Track and field more than any other sport is intrinsically linked to education, and so for years the tag line for our high school coaches was "train hard and work for a scholarship to America". This tagline now has been evolving into "train hard and work for a scholarship to one of our local colleges or universities", and this tagline is gradually being accepted in all sports.
Intercol is a member of the International University Sports Federation (FISU), which is the world governing body for university sports, boasting membership of 163 countries. At the regional level it participates in Organizacion Deportiva Universitaria Panamericana (ODUPA) competitions, which is the equivalent of the Pan Am Games, as well as Organizacion Deportiva Universitaria de Centroamerica y del Caribe (ODUCC), which is the equivalent of the Central America and Caribbean Games.
This all leads to participation in the Summer Universiade also called the World University Games that is second only to the Olympic Games.
The regional and world competitions provide an excellent platform for international exposure for student-athletes in the early stages of their development to elite status.
Unfortunately, lack of funding has significantly restricted our ability to participate in the games and when we do participate, we participate in very small numbers.
Despite the increased efforts of Intercol in recent years and the phenomenal success of our local-based athletes, Intercol's struggles to get media coverage and securing significant sponsorship dollars continue to be a major challenge and so hinders considerably the further development of sports.
As we plan for future development, Intercol should be an intergral component in any development plan as the vehicle to facilitate the transition from high school sports to the elite level. Our national federation should be looking within the collegiate system for prospective national players.
Increased number of university-trained national representatives will not only facilitate better players, but will also facilitate excellent prospects for the job market in general and for future sports administrators.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Anthony Davis is a PhD Scholar at the University of Glasgow and President of Jamaica Intercollegiate Sports Association (Intercol)