Stage set for dynamic Inter Schools Athletics 2013

With just about one month to go before the annual Inter Primary and Inter Secondary Schools Athletics Championships 2013 things are certainly heating up with the various schools upping the ante on their preparation for the big finals.
The idyllic Arnos Vale #1, totally transformed over the past two editions of the Inter Schools Athletics Championships with a multi-coloured track and extremely well decorated, will once more be the setting for keen competition amongst the nation’s junior athletes.
Several schools have already completed their individual athletics competitions and have commenced preparing their respective teams for the national event.
Organisers expect this year’s edition of the Inter Primary and Inter Secondary Championships to be extremely exciting with patronage topping that of previous years.
Schools Games Committee (SGC)
Some years the Ministry of Education established the SGC headed by the Deputy Chief Education Officer, Beverly Neptune.
Not long thereafter the decision was taken to establish Sub Committees that would bear responsibility for all aspects of the planning and organisation of sports at the inter primary and inter secondary schools’ level, respectively.
The representative of the respective national sports association heads each of the Sub Committees. The rationale here is based on the fact that the national sports associations are the official local representatives of the respective international federations (IF), which determines the rules and regulations governing all aspects of the different sports practised around the world, inclusive of St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The rest of the membership of each Sub Committee of the SGC is composed of representation of the Department of Sport, the Physical Education and Sport Department of the Ministry of Education, the Primary Schools Principals Association, the Secondary Schools Principals Association, the National Sports Council, the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Service, the Sports Medicine Association and the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment.
Initially there were concerns expressed but eventually the respective national associations took up the challenge and have made good on their assigned tasks.
Other sports
We are into the second term of the 2012-13 academic year. Already the SGC has organised several competitions at the Inter Schools level.
In the first term there were competitions in football and netball. Already in the second term the basketball and volleyball competitions have been completed. Cricket has already started but has been held up by the Cricket Association’s request that no matches be scheduled while the regional competition is taking place at Arnos Vale #1.
Reports at the level of the SGC indicate that the competitions that have been held thus far were fairly competitive.
The football and netball competitions retained their excitement and produced some very good quality games and revealed some outstanding athletes.
Students welcomed the basketball competition, which did not attract as many institutions as originally expected. The same could be said of the volleyball competition. In both these competitions there were boys and girls sub divisions.
It has been the intention of the SGC that following the completion of the competitions training squads should be selected to commence training for the annual Windward Islands Schools Games which is being hosted in St Vincent and the Grenadines during the period 26 July to 4 August 2013.
Athletics 2013
The athletics season for schools began as early as the first term of the current 2012/13 academic year. Some primary schools organised their competitions very early in order to start preparations for the Inter Primary Championships, which are set just before the closing of the second term.
Those schools that have already had their individual sports have shown a significant improvement in the level of competition obviously resulting from a higher measure of commitment to training in athletics.
What is evident is that even those that have only had their preliminaries (heats) thus far have shown improvement.
What is clear is that the better performances are coming from athletes who are being coached and who have been engaged in systematic training beginning with pre-season work undertaken in the first term of the current academic year.
Physical Education (PE) teachers at the various secondary schools have obviously been bitten by the urge to lift the level of preparation of their athletes first for their individual sports day and secondly for the Inter Secondary Athletics Championships.
Several of the PE teachers perform the role of coaches after school.
Arnos Vale remains a hive of activity on afternoons Monday thru Friday and on Saturday mornings with coaches working the athletes through their paces. The National Sports Council (NSC) continues to make the facilities available to Team Athletics St Vincent and the Grenadines (TASVG) for training and competition.
Thanks to the National Lotteries Authority (NLA), TASVG’s coaches have been able to conduct training sessions on a regular basis and an increasing amount of equipment is being made available for use there as well.
The Layou Playing Field, under the NSC’s administration, has also become home to increased athletics training activities. Scores of children have been engaged in the Kids in Athletics (KIA) programme which prepares them in the fundamentals of track and field athletics. The young athletes are also being prepared for their respective school sports.
Facilities and Equipment
Much work is currently being undertaken by TASVG to enhance the facilities available to the athletes and coaches with attention being paid to the maintenance of equipment procured by TASVG.
The long and triple jump facilities are being significantly upgraded – inclusive of a synthetic surface for the run-up and professional take-off board equipment – to give more athletes the opportunity to better prepare themselves for these events. The same is being done with regard to the facilities for the Shot and Discus Throws. All of these improvements are at Arnos Vale #2 where increasing emphasis is being placed on the field events in the absence of a synthetic track
Inter Schools Athletics
All indications are that this year’s Inter Primary and Inter Secondary Schools Athletics Championships will witness very keen competition.
Not only are many of the athletes better prepared given the increased training pursued but also because there is greater interesting rising to the top of the results table.
It is heart-warming to see the interest in doing well at athletics being so keen among principals and head teachers. This augurs well for the development of the sport in our country.
Parents are also showing greater interest in the training and competitions in which their children are involved.
Given the intense competition we have seen between schools over the past two years in particular we can expect great rivalry and this in both the male and female divisions.
PE teachers have been trying to close the gap between them and the approach has changed significantly over the past two years.
It remains an unfortunate truism that the surface at Arnos Vale #1 remains heavily sand-based and this means that despite the best efforts of the athletes and coaches the times will be relatively weaker than the athletes are actually running.
At the primary schools level we can expect to witness major improvements. We should also see an increase in the number of schools and athletes participating in the Championships.
This year the Inter Primary Schools Heats will be done in a mixed format on both days – 6 – 7 March. This is a change from last year when as happened with the Inter Secondary Schools Athletics Championships where Heats are done one day for boys and another for girls.
Expectations are high at all levels. The children should have a great time.
Windward Islands Schools Games
Importantly, St Vincent and the Grenadines will host the annual Windward Islands Secondary Schools Games.
One expects that as hosts we would do well.
Already the Organising Committee has been established and work has begun. The regional planning meeting takes place here on 2 May and all participating countries are expected to attend. While here they will meet with the local Organising Committee, visit the facilities and the Games Village and satisfy themselves that the planning process is well advanced and that the Games will meet established standards.
It is expected that each of the Sub Committees will work consistently to facilitate the production of really competitive teams that are well prepared for the onslaught that usually comes in this competition.
One can only hope that with this year’s approach to schools sports championships being different from hitherto we can showcase our talented youths at the Windward Islands Schools Games when we host the sub region.