ISSA could have avoided this row

Saturday, March 18, 2017

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We accept Dr Walton Small’s explanation that the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) has never before published the discussion and result of any meeting dealing with requests from schools seeking reviews of the entry requirements for athletes for the annual ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys’ and Girls’ Athletics Championships.


However, we believe that the case of Ugandan student Mr Arymanya Rodgers, who was approved to compete for Kingston College (KC) in this year’s staging of the championships, warranted an explanation before Thursday.


Readers will recall that the youngster’s arrival at KC last year was met with a lot of chatter in athletics circles, given that he is adept at distance running. The feeling among the school’s detractors was that Mr Rodgers’ inclusion in the team will boost KC’s chances of winning the Mortimer Geddes Trophy, which is now held by arch-rivals, Calabar High.


Whether that holds true is yet to be seen. However, there has been a lot of focus on the young Ugandan at development meets leading up to Boys’ Champs, which starts next week.


Earlier this week, Calabar High administrators issued a news release questioning ISSA’s decision which, the school suggested, ran counter to the association’s eligibility rules.


Calabar’s complaint came a week after ISSA met and took its decision which, Dr Small explained on Thursday, was arrived at after the association’s executive examined extenuating circumstances relating to young Mr Rodgers.


Dr Small, the ISSA president, explained that the student had encountered difficulties getting a flight from Uganda, through Germany to Jamaica, ,in time for the start of the school year, despite being duly registered at KC.


"The young man was originally slated to arrive in Jamaica on August 24 and an itinerary was provided. If all things went well, he would have been in Jamaica on the morning of August 24th," Dr Small explained. "However, when the young man went to the airport on the morning of August 23rd for his flight, he was refused boarding because Germany expected him to have a visa."


Eventually, after experiencing further visa and ticket difficulties, Mr Rodgers arrived in Jamaica on October 16.


Dr Small pointed out that reviews due to extenuating circumstances were not uncommon and, in fact, stated that Calabar had, in the past, benefited from such a review.


If that is true, we really can’t see what the big fuss is about. However, we believe that ISSA, having heard all that was being said about the case of Mr Rodgers, especially after its meeting last week, could have avoided the brouhaha by speaking earlier.

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