By Neto Baptiste
Amidst ongoing debate over the lack of police presence at select venues during the ongoing schools football championships, two principals are weighing in on the subject, calling for those in authority to take a more inclusive approach in tackling the vexing issue.
Speaking on the Good Morning Jojo sports show, Principal of the Princess Margaret School (PMS), Colin Greene, pointed to an incident at the Radio Range playing field last Friday which led to the premature end of a boys’ under-20 clash between his team and the Ottos Comprehensive School (OCS).
“I did not expect any police presence at the game because that is the challenge we have been having for not just this year but for a number of years. The way I see it is this, anywhere you have large gatherings whether it’s young people or middle-aged people, it is useful to have the presence of the legal authority so I am having a graduation next week an di don’t anticipate it to be a volatile situation but I’ve already written to the police to say I would like their presence for the keeping of order and control just in case,” he said.
“I think every school game or activity should be taken seriously in that same light but one of the problems I think we are facing is that the people who are talking to you [the media] are not talking to us [the principals] so they have no real clue as to what is happening,” he added.
Recent incidents reportedly involving students from at least three secondary institutions, have led to principals pulling entire teams form the ongoing Schools Football Competition and at least one student being brought up on charges related to the possession of a modified flare gun and a round of 9mm ammunition while at a schools’ football match.
Principal of the OCS, Foster Roberts, said principals need the support of all, including law enforcement, to keep both students and players safe.
“The beef is not usually between the players themselves but it is those persons who normally say they are coming to watch the games so they are not school students. They were in school but for one reason or the other they found themselves outside because they don’t want no school but they show up at school functions just to cause problems and so the whole issue of security as school functions are critical to us as school leaders,” he said.
“The children who come and reside with us on a daily basis are there because they want to be there, they chose to be there and it is our job to make sure that they are safe in whatever environment we place them in as administrators and so from time to time we will ask for the assistance of the police,” Roberts added.
Coordinator of Schools Football, Rowan “Porridge” Benjamin, was apologetic regarding the incident at Radio Range on Friday but insisted the encounter should have went ahead despite threats to at least one player from spectators who had gathered behind the southern goal.
“First off, I just want to apologize for that situation on Friday but I really do believe that the game could have continues because the situation that arose at the south goal, that area was cleared and those children because they are children and in some instances you’re [principals] are correct but I don’t want you’ll to get away from the fact that some of these troublemakers are students,” the administrator said.
Benjamin assured that the match will be rescheduled.
Last week, Commissioner of Police Atlee Rodney, said the upward trend in violence amongst youths and at school sporting events were of a major concern to those in law enforcement.