Coach hits athletics association over lack of support for athletes

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By Neto Baptiste

Coach and former national track athlete Evans Jones has taken the Antigua and Barbuda Athletics Association (ABAA) to task over what he said was its lack of support for national athletes.

Jones, who is also the country’s assistant director of sports, said national athletes are often left to fend for themselves during the season and when preparing to represent the country.

“Whatever financial support, whatever medical support, whatever competition support, all these are support mechanisms that are lacking within the athletics association in order to enhance the athletes and their development programme; because when you look back, all the things that the coaches and parents have been putting in for these athletes, the only thing they can say that they are getting from the association is when they have been selected to represent Antigua and Barbuda,” he said. 

Jones, the father of national junior sprinter Soniya Jones, revealed that, as a coach, he often finds himself digging into his own pocket to assist in funding the preparation of athletes, something he believes should be subsidised by the association.

“Gym fees are $115 per month, which I pay for the athletes I coach to go the National Fitness Gym, and I have to say thanks to [Wesley Barrow] because at times he gives us a discount. But when you have to go to the gym for eight or 10 months you have to pay that; you have to supplement the athletes with proper vitamins and nutritional needs,” he said.

“We have to look at taking them to the physiotherapist and the massage therapist; so there are so many things, including those who have to catch a bus back and forth, and the association has not looked at a system or mechanism or a structure to uplift the development of track and field,” the coach added. 

However, Jones believes that in order to produce more world-class athletes, the association must be involved at a financial level.

“Those athletes with the under-15, the under-18, under-20, under-23; had there been a proper structure to facilitate them and their development from a supportive mechanism, we would have been flying our flags much higher than Daniel Bailey has done, Cejhae Greene is doing, than the relay team has done, and we would have had more individual athletes coming out,” he said.

The association came under fire following news one week ago that they had “snubbed” Soniya by removing her from the country’s team to the NACAC Championships in Mexico due to a lack of adequate funding.

The young athlete was informed of the association’s decision mere days before the scheduled departure for Mexico.

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