Some coaches welcome Saturday's all-comers meetThursday, June 17, 2021
BY PAUL A REID
A number of top high school track and field coaches have welcomed this Saturday's final All-comers meet set to be held at the National Stadium, starting at 8:00 am, as the athletes fine-tune for next week's Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association's (JAAA) senior and junior championships at the same venue.
Neil Harrison of Jamaica College and Michael Dyke of Edwin Allen High, the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) boys' and girls' champions, as well as St Jago High's girls' Coach Keilando Goburn have all welcomed the initiative.
The original announcement from the JAAA yesterday was for a meet geared to the Under-18 and Under-20 athletes, but that was adjusted less than an hour later to include the seniors as well.
The age-group athletes will be seeking to make teams for the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC) Under-18 Championships to be held in Costa Rica and the World Under-20 to be held in Nairobi, Kenya, in August.
With the World Under-20 still two months away, the coaches are hoping the JAAA will continue with camps after the team is named to keep the athletes in competitive condition.
At least one top school, Hydel High, will not have any athletes at Saturday's meet, but as Head Coach Corey Bennett told the Jamaica Observer, his athletes, having already achieved the qualifying performances for the World Under-20 Championships and with external exams set to start just a few days after the trials, needed to focus on their academics.
All the coaches agreed that while the JAAA had so far done an outstanding job of organising weekend camps for the juniors, Bennett and Goburn asked for more to be done.
Bennett called on the JAAA to “offer academic support at the weekend camps”, while Goburn also suggested that after the team to the World Under-20 was selected, the weekend camps should be held regionally and said the coaching and management staff should also be named early.
“Saturday's meet is important,” Dyke said. “Most of the athletes would not have had a lot of opportunities to compete since Champs in May,” and while he admitted the meet was a bit close to the start of the junior championships, added, “the meet is necessary and we welcome it”.
Harrison, who joined a select group of coaches to win a major schoolboys football title and the boys' Champs title, said, “Meets like these are always needed to keep the athletes in shape,” and said for him, “it's not too close to the championships”.
He said the JAAA “was doing a great work with the weekend camps, there are schools that cannot afford to keep their programmes going after Champs, so this is a plus”.
Bennett added: “The few athletes that I have that will be participating at [the championships] are ready, and with exams so close, I don't want them to lose any time with their studies.”
He argued that July will be a crucial preparation period for the athletes when they will also be involved in sitting exams and said the JAAA should think about “adding academic support” during the camps.
Goburn welcomed Saturday's meet and said it “will be a good test, a gauge to see where we are at”, adding that the junior championships “will be more than just finishing in the top two but also getting qualifying standards”.
The St Jago High coach said with the World Under-20 still some time away, “we hope the JAAA will stay abreast of what is going on with World Athletics' plans. If the JAAA is fully committed to keeping the athletes ready for competition, we must find creative ways to keep these camps”.
He suggested that coaching and management staff be announced early and regional camps be organised. “It makes no sense for an athlete from, say, Westmoreland, who is doing exams, have to travel to Kingston for a camp. We can have three camps each weekend, in each county.”
Each camp, he said, would have a staff of coaches, physiotherapists, and other necessary personnel. “The onus will be on the JAAA to name the staff early so they will know what they are dealing with.”
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