By Neto Baptiste
President of the Antigua and Barbuda Athletics Association (ABAA) and Olympian, Everton Cornelius, believes the government should allocate more funding for schools sports.
Suggesting that each sport should receive a figure over $15,000, Cornelius also suggested that specific disciplines should be targeted and given priority within the schools’ curriculum.
“Even give each school $20,000 and say, this is for sports within your school, for uniforms, your this and your that, and there are two or three sports, or if we’re going to name five or six sports we are going to play in the schools for now then that’s what we concentrate on, and then we need the necessary manpower to make sure these things happen. Everything comes with money and there is nothing you’re going to do today that not going to cost you. It’s not free, you can’t get it free, you can’t get progress without investment,” he said.
His call comes on the heels of news that government is mulling a return to school competitions some time in the second term, which could come between January and February next year.
Currently, school sports is funded through the sports development fund which is allocated roughly $100,000 per year. The government also covers costs associated with the competitions to include salaries for coaches, transportation of teams, payment for officials, equipment, along with trophies and medals.
The track and field boss also reported an uptake in the number of athletes utilising the new surface at the YASCO Sports Complex.
“Ages, I would say five to 12 and maybe up to 13 — I’ve seen an uptake in that age group. I’ve seen some of the older athletes who had left the track starting to come back because we have a surface now. I still do not see the level of interest and I want to believe that is because school has been out for most of the time and who is attending the school meets is where we would get our athletes, where our junior athletes are concerned,” Cornelius said.
Sports and athletes at the national level also benefit from government funding through its ADARP initiative. According to research, ADARP is allocated $500,000 annually with an additional $100,000 in Olympic year.