Sports in our schools

Planning
It may serve as a useful exercise, for example, for the Ministry of education, Youth and Sports to be clear in respect of the overall mission of the competition among the nation’s schools.
What are the objectives of the competition in football, or in any sport for that matter.
The rationale here is that without a clear mission and its attendant objectives it is not possible to engage in any meaningful analysis of the activities of a competitive nature being engaged in by the nation’s schools.
The annual schools programme must not be such that a set of competitions are organized, willy nilly, without due regard to the attainment of some clearly stated objectives. At the end of the child’s school career, what is it that we are hoping to have achieved by his/her involvement in sports.
It may well be that the existing programme of school sports do not satisfy any particular objective and hence needs a comprehensive review.
The point is that we must be sure that we are developing programmes that are in sync with the overall mission of ensuring that the student, on average, emerges from his/her years of schooling with an education, one that speaks to all aspects of the human condition.
Over the years we have not developed a team approach to sports in our schools.
Little attention is paid to the nutritional status of the students generally far less to those who desire to participate in sports. Even less attention is paid to ensuring that a physician adequately examines the members of the team before they commence the rigorous training regimen demanded by those responsible for their preparation for competition. Once the competition begins it is normative for athletes to be examined medically only after injury takes its toll.
Most schools are without guidance counselors and hence we are aware of the non existence of sports psychologists in support of those who endeavour to engage in competitive sports.

Progression
This columnist has repeatedly appealed for the introduction of physical education as a fixture on the curriculum of our education system. This necessitates the training and provision of physical educators at the respective educational institutions, at all levels, and the doing away with the Games teacher concept.
But the physical educator is responsible for physical education, which, while critical to the learning of sports skills, is not in fact sports. The latter is the responsibility of the coach.
The proposal here is that coaches may be engaged by the respective schools around the country to impart the skills necessary to facilitate the preparation of students for understanding, appreciating and playing the game in an acceptable manner.
The coach teaches the progression necessary to bring the skill level of the student to a point that allows for participation in meaningful competition.
The physical educator lays the basis for understanding the workings of the body and its growth and development relative to performance in exercise while the coach teaches general and specific skills relative to a particular sport or a specific discipline within a sport.
While the physical educator facilitates an understanding of an appreciation for coordination, the coach utilizes the coordination to match the requirements of the particular sporting discipline.