KINGSTON, November 23 Jamaica has been producing some of the world’s best athletes from as far back as 1948, but as the world turned competition across the disciplines became intense. The history of Jamaica’s sporting record is well known, but as of 2013, there needs to be a new methodology in how athletes are prepared to compete in the global sport village.
A year ago, a colleague of mine Andrew Edwards wrote this piece http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/sport/Sport-academies-urgently-needed-in-Ja_10496779 and I would like to say I totally agree. While football is Andrew’s main focus in the article, I would like to take this discussion much further.
The Bahamas, one of our Caribbean rivals, at least in track and field and volleyball, in June this year, issued its intention to launch a Sports Academy http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130624/sports/sports9.html
Dr. Daniel Johnson, the Youth, Sports and Culture minister stated “These academies are going to tap into the abundant potential in this country which we now find prevalent in the Family Islands. Athletes identified for the programme will be groomed with scientific training at academies of excellence. The academies will also focus on life skills. The intent is to produce world-class athletes within the country in selected disciplines through a systematic process of identification and selection at a young age.”
In Canada for example, schools in Alberta have used the Academy format for hockey and baseball and the commentary is the high school equivalent programmes revolve around a sport and provide students with the opportunity to compete or train at a high level, while they complete high school. Note the academies are done at the high school level.
The athletes in an Academy also have the opportunity to participate in social and personal development skills, not so readily available in a high school system, and if offered effectively/efficiently could see that athlete being better prepared “for the world” than the regular high school student.
I challenge the Ministry of Education to develop a curriculum to include
- Academic offers – Mathematics, English, History, a Science and a language
- Social Skills – personal development to include etiquette, protocol, financial planning and knowledge of current affairs
- Health Studies to include Fitness, Wellness, Anti Doping
- Physical – trainers aimed to maximise the abilities of the athletes
The use of proper facilities to include gym work and other field visits are also to be incorporated. The GC Foster College is a teacher-education institution and should remain just that as it provides its core responsibility; but the Sports Academy can help to complement and supplement the sport industry.
In recent days we have seen globally where the sport industry in leaps and bounds…global sponsorship of cricket surpassing 400 million dollars; Adidas extending the sponsorship of FIFA World Cup until 2030 and so many other deals; it means sport has real value.
Jamaica’s talent pool can be nurtured to morph into well rounded individuals ready to take on the world on and off the field. The Academy format is the best option for that model .