INTER-SECONDARY School Sports Association (ISSA) president Dr Walton Small has called on the Government to offer high schools across the country a subvention to run their various sports programmes as well as improve facilities.
The Wolmer's Boys' School principal believes this would greatly reduce the number of academic transfers to traditional high schools each year.
The school sports governing body has come under fire from the Minister of Education Ronald Thwaites lately for what has been viewed as an inordinate amount of students transferring from one school to another in order to bolster their sporting programmes.
This led Wolmer's Boys being termed 'Wolmer's United' and triple crown winners St George's College being nicknamed 'STGC FC' during the recent ISSA/Gatorade Manning Cup football season following the movement of as many as five boys from other schools at the start of the last schoolboy football season.
However, while stating that the majority of transfers are for academic reasons, Small said that the Government also has a role to play in ensuring that this practice, if not ceased, at best is reduced.
"How many schools can develop their football fields? How can they improve if they can't improve their resources? How many schools can pay coaches... good money to coach teams?" Small asked.
He added that parents were attracted to schools such as Wolmer's and St George's because they often have the firm backing of a past students and parent-teachers associations.
"Those schools have a tradition of their old students supporting their school and their parents supporting their school. Parents from communities that don't have that kind of support invariably see an institution that facilitates that kind of development and will take them there too."
Small said that the Government should invest money in schools in such a way as to help eliminate the need for these transfers.
"The Government needs to give the schools good money to employ quality coaches and to fix up the community centres in various parishes and give those community centres to the schools to run," Small said.
He cited the case of a number of community sporting centres across the island, including that of Goshen in St Elizabeth, which had fallen into desrepair because of lack of maintenance.
"Within a year or two they are run-down because there is nobody to maintain them. Build them and make the schools run them and the schools can use those facilities. When parents see there are facilities and good coaches they are not going to want to move their children, so we have to start somewhere," said Small.
Thwaites has called for psychologist Dr Leachim Semaj to conduct an investigation into the transfer system to determine how widely it is practised.
Small noted that many national players are developed and evolve during the ISSA-run high school competitions, namely those in football and track and field. He added that if these were to be discontinued it would spell disaster for national sports.
"All the national programmes are going to suffer, so it is a good way for the Government to invest in the development of sports in this country," Small concluded.