Athletics Coach David Riley says systematic prejudices hurting sport


Athletics Coach David Riley says systematic prejudices hurting sport

Observer writer

Saturday, January 16, 2021

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David Riley, president of the Jamaica Track and Field Coaches Association (JATAFCA), says a national prejudice towards sports and people who participate in sports is behind the restrictions on non-contact sports.

In a strongly worded statement sent to the Jamaica Observer on Thursday, Riley, who has been part of the national track and field coaching set-up, said the medical doctors who were consulted by the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW) had “no interest nor care for sports [as] they are still living in the 1900s and only give lip service to sport”.

The outspoken president of JATAFCA said: “The suspension of sports has nothing to do with COVID-19, it has to do with what they think is important and what they think is not.”

On Thursday, the MOHW extended a number of measures that were put in place in December, including a restriction on the number of persons that can gather to a maximum of 15, which meant that sporting events had to be curtailed and saw 13 track and field meets being postponed or cancelled if new dates cannot be found to accommodate them.

There have been a general lockdown on sporting events in the island since the onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic in March last year, but while there was an easing of the restrictions that allowed for a number of events to be held later in 2020, a further tightening of rules late last year also led to the postponements of several track and field meets earlier this month.

The MVP Track Club was able to stage a series of small meets — the Velocity Fest series at Jamaica College and National Stadium last year, while the Tyser Mills meet was held at Calabar High.

Additionally, Waterhouse FC were able to host a Concacaf League game at Stadium East complex, while the Jamaica Golf Association staged several events, including the Jamaica Open at Tryall Club in December as well as the National Amateur Championships at Half Moon earlier in the year.

“This idea that sports is unimportant is rampant in the educational system where the science department is seen as more important than the PE department,” Riley, who is the head coach at Excelsior High School in Kingston, said.

“Students who do science subjects are seen as smarter and more intelligent than those who do physical education and other competence-based subjects,” Riley said.

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