An open day catered specifically to sponsors and a commemorative photo for the overall champions by the Dwight Howard Charity are among the initiatives this year from the National Primary Schools Athletics Championship organizing committee.
During this morning’s press launch hosted at the school of defending girls champions City of Bridgetown St. Giles Primary, who along with reigning boys champions St. Alban’s Primary will look to repeat, NAPSAC meet director Janelle Denny confirmed a total of 82 schools had registered for this year’s 17th edition of NAPSAC.
Acknowledging the importance of sponsorship, Denny said the NAPSAC organizing committee decided to have an open day event to help generate more sponsorship and help keep the competition alive.
She explained that a budget of over BDS $250, 000 was needed to host NAPSAC every year and commended the committee for managing as well as they did.
In fact, this is the first time she said schools had been asked to pay more for registration fees but explained that the ticket prices have not been raised and remained the same at BDS $5 for children and adults $10 for each zonal meet and $20 for the final. Live streaming will also be provided once again.
With almost 4000 athletes scheduled to participate, Denny said for the first time in NAPSAC history they would commence with the Patsy Callender Zone when the preliminaries begin next week Monday, February 11 at the Usain Bolt Sports Complex.
Zonal meets will go right through the week except for Wednesday, February 13 which is being given as a rest day. The other four participating zones are the Obadele Thompson on the 12th, Andrea Blackett on the 14th, Anton Norris on the 15th, and the James Wedderburn Zone on the 18th.
The quarterfinals are on March 1, semifinal March 8 and the overall final on March 19.
As the NAPSAC organizing committee seeks to raise its standard on and off the track, Denny explained that the focus this year would be on coaching education. She said that for the first time a shot put session was conducted by assistant meet director for NAPSAC Wendy Barrow- Smith and a technical workshop done by NAPSAC technical director Ryan Toppin.
“It is part of NAPSAC’s push to implement an educational programme for our coaches because quality coaches should be able to produce quality athletes and not only with the introduction of the shot put which will occur in 2020 but the training is focusing on all of the skills. The long jump, the throws, even though we will have experienced teachers in the system that will also benefit, the newer teachers that come into the system and are charged with taking care of their charges who come to NAPSAC will be better prepared to teach and train them, “ Denny said.
COB St. Giles Primary are not just the overall girls’ champions at NAPSAC, but they are also the double crown queens of the event called Champion of Champions also organized by NAPSAC and hosted bi-annually.
The proposed date for Champion of Champions this year is March 26 but Denny said NAPSAC was awaiting confirmation whether the Ministry of Education would give them a school day rather than have it a weekend which was the norm.
Assistant director of the National Sports Council Mona Alleyne spoke about the importance of social and academic responsibilities and said, “The mention of sports is still sometimes very far and wide in people’s mind and some people cannot understand that those athletes who have done well in the past and have benefitted from scholarships don’t go out there and run, hop, jump and skip, they do academic work. And the combination of the newer skills or the athletic skills and the academic ability they have, make them what they are as they become older.
“It is not always about academics though, it is about healthy activities and it is about keeping fit and developing the body and mind together. But it is also about fun and enjoyment, and as young people, you should continue to enjoy your youth because it doesn’t stay very long with you and it helps you to build a base for when you grow older,” Alleyne said.