JISA to stage first Independent High Schools Champs next year
INCREASED attention and support from the private sector has encouraged the Jamaica Independent Schools' Association (JISA) to start planning its inaugural independent high schools' track and field championships for next year.
"We all know that independent high schools like Hydel participate in the Boys' and Girls' Championships each year, but there is no independent high schools' champs to accommodate the many other high schools who want to compete," JISA president Wesley Boynes told the Jamaica Observer recently.
However, he said that now that JISA is assured of multi-year and multimillion-dollar support for its sports programme from companies like Seprod and Flow, it is able to plan ahead and the independent high schools' champs is one of its priorities.
"I think that it was a failure on our part to pursue the development of more sporting events for the independent high schools. So it is something we are working on, because the independent high schools' principals are complaining," he said.
"We are working on the championships right now, and I give you my word that it will be addressed as of the next school year (which begins September). The principals have been calling for it, and I get a lot of angry calls about it from them," he added.
Boynes, formerly CEO of Genesis Academy and currently chairman and founder of North Gate High School, Ocho Rios, was speaking to the Observer during the running of the National Prep Schools' Championships at the National Stadium, recently.
He said that the lack of an independent high schools' champs in the past was not necessarily due to a lack of funds, but mainly a lack of enough schools to make it viable.
"The feasibility was very difficult in the past, but now that we have a growing number of high schools, and we have been building a good partnership with companies like Seprod, Serge Island
and Flow; long-staying partnerships, not the one-off ones we used to have to negotiate every year; it is a lot more feasible," he said.
"We can plan ahead and I can tell you now what we are going to do next year, and I can tell you that next year we will be commencing the Jamaica Independent Schools' track and field championships," Boynes confirmed.
There is also a likelihood of the JISA Prep Schools' Championships being merged with the annual Primary Schools' Championships to make it one big, exciting event for primary level students starting next year, Deputy General Manager/Marketing at Facey Commodity, exclusive distributor for Seprod and Serge Island products, Matthew Samuda, told the Observer.
Seprod has pumped $5.5 million into the Inter-Prep Schools' Championship, in addition to its $10-million sponsorship of the 34th INSPORTS/Seprod Primary Schools' Athletics Championships.
Seprod Marketing and Sales manager Marcia Kitson-Walters said that despite the harsh economic climate the company remained committed to continuing its sponsorship of the primary and prep school events, and will increase the level of sponsorship in the future.
She said that the investment in the young athletes, which also includes a multi-million deal with Olympian Warren Weir as Serge Island's brand ambassador, was a "win-win" opportunity for the company and the country.