It was an average turnout of students at the Kirani James Athletic Stadium for the inaugural National Secondary School Games held last Friday.
The stand for students was filled but the area of the stadium that is normally set aside for parents and adult spectators was not packed to capacity as during the hosting of Intercol.
The National Secondary School Games is government’s replacement for the annual Intercollegiate Games which was cancelled by the Grenada Principals Association as a result of the work to rule taken by the Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT) in its fight for 25% pension and gratuity payment.
Instead of the rivalry among the different secondary schools as is customary with Intercol, last Friday’s games saw rivalry among the different zones of schools in competition in the categories of Under 15, Under 17 and Under 21.
The athletic competition was categorised in four zones – Northern Zone, Southern, Eastern and the Western Zone and were colour coded with uniforms compliments telecommunications company Digicel.
The Northern Zone was in blue and white, Southern Zone in red and white, Eastern Zone in navy blue and white and the Western Zone was black and white.
The Eastern Zone consisted of St. David’s Catholic Secondary, Grenville Secondary, St. Andrew Anglican Secondary, St. Joseph’s Convent, St. Andrew, and Grenada Christian Academy, the Southern Zone is made up of Grenada Boys Secondary, Presentation Brother’s College, Anglican High School, St. Joseph’s Convent, St. George’s, Westmorland Secondary, Wesley College, Westerhall Secondary, and J.W. Fletcher Catholic.
The schools in the Western Zone are Mac Donald College, St. Mark’s Secondary, St. John’s Christian Secondary, Happy Hill Secondary, St. Rose Modern Secondary, and Grenada SDA Comprehensive while the Northern Zone was represented by Hillsborough Secondary and Bishop’s College in Carriacou.
The events started just around 10 a.m. last Friday and concluded at around 6:20 p.m with the Eastern Zone winning the competition with 304.50 points, followed by the Southern Zone (229.50 points), Northern Zone (146.50 points) and the fourth place going to Western Zone with 118.50 points.
In speaking at the opening ceremony of the games, Minister of Education, Emmalin Pierre said that although the organisers had “tremendous support” they were also faced with “tremendous resistance” in hosting the games but without elaborating.
Government has accused some principals and teachers in particular of trying to influence students to boycott the games.
The Keith Mitchell-led government is currently engaged in a stand-off between teachers and mainstream public workers on a 25% pension and gratuity issue that boiled over from the March 13, 2018 general election.
According to Minister Pierre, the odds did not prevent them from providing the opportunity for the talents of the student athletes to be recognised and showcased on the day.
“We believe as a government that every child deserves every possible opportunity to grow, every possible opportunity to succeed and that is the only reason that we took that very bold decision to hold these games”, she said.
“…We all believe in the all-round development of children, we believe in opportunity for children to learn, for students to learn and that is exactly why we are here today. Because we believe that … we can speak today of those who have excelled in terms of their recognition internationally and how they were responsible and how they were able to be good ambassadors, promoting our country regionally and internationally”, she added. Minister Pierre went on: “…We can also speak today about those in the past who never thought that they would have an opportunity to fund their education and it was sports in many cases that gave so many persons including many of our Physical Education teachers, many of our coaches, that opportunity today to have a career that they are proud of, that they are passionate about, and so we don’t take for granted, ladies and gentlemen, the opportunities that we can provide to our students”.
One of the main organisers of the event, Assistant Coordinator of Sports in the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Kerlon Peters on Monday told THE NEW TODAY that the games were indeed a success.
“It was better than expected. We expected that the athletes would come out and compete and that was the goal,” he said.
Peters stated it is very likely that the hosting of the games will continue in 2020.