OCS principal urges sports ministry to consider prep funding ahead of schools’ track and field championships

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Principal of the Ottos Comprehensive School, Foster Roberts (File photo)
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By Neto Baptiste

Principal of the Ottos Comprehensive School (OCS), Foster Roberts, is calling for an injection of funds into schools competing at the Inter-Schools Track and Field Championships in an effort to assist with their preparations and offset costs leading into the annual event.

“What about if we decide that, as a Ministry of Sports, every school is going to get a $10,000.00 injection, depending on the size of your school, so a school like Ottos Comprehensive, Princess Margaret or Clare Hall Secondary [would get more] than you would give to a St Mary’s or Glanvilles because those are smaller contingents, so what about if we make that injection into the schools so that the schools can properly prepare,” he said.

Schools have often highlighted the heavy costs associated with preparing for and competing at the annual event with some schools spending upwards of $2000 per day over a three-day period.

Roberts said that OCS is no exception, revealing that the school could spend large sums to ensure athletes are properly equipped to represent their schools.

“On an average we spend between $1500 to $2000 every day [of the meet] to feed our children and that doesn’t include if it’s a year where they have to get new uniforms because if we have to get new uniforms then you are talking about $30,000.00 and that all has to be funded by the school. We get no support at all financially from anybody, unless we have some goodwill persons and past students and so forth, who will make their contributions,” he said. 

The outspoken Roberts also suggested that sponsors of the event must be willing to step-up to the plate and offer better incentives to both the schools and the organisers.

“If you look at what happens in Jamaica with their inter-schools championships, and let us suppose that the major sponsor is Grace Kennedy and there are 15 schools competing, then all 15 schools uniforms are sponsored by them and they also wear the emblem of the organization, so why is it that we cannot get to that stage in Antigua where our major sponsor, sponsors all of the uniforms. I would think that the time has come where when people are negotiating to get major sponsors for inter-schools that it can’t be just about trophies and medals,” the principal said.

The annual Inter-schools Track and Field Championships was held from March 8-10 at the YASCO Sports Complex with the Princess Margaret School (PMS) emerging winners in both the boys and girls categories.

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