The recent death of a Jamaican student athlete in Trinidad and Tobago is both untimely and tragic.  My condolences go out to the family of Cavahn and the St. Jago High School family. On the other hand, we should not allow Cavahn McKenzie,s death to be vain and as such we must revisit how our students’ athletes are treated.

The time has come for us to put in measures to protect our student athletes.

Firstly, is there a medical insurance scheme for our students athletes to assist them to cover medical costs whenever they get injured if no, why not? Additionally, we need to ask whether there is a group life insurance scheme for our student athletes to assist their families in the event of death. If this is not yet in place surely now is as good a time for such a scheme to be implemented. Oftentimes we tend to forgive that death can come at any time in one’s life. The sacrifices and glory to school and nation by our student athletes should not go unrewarded. The least we can do as a society is to reciprocate in any way possible given these athletes level of commitment over the years.

We also need to ask ourselves what measures are in place to measure to test the level of fitness for our athletes before we allow them to compete whether locally, regionally or on the international arena? Do we administer stress level tests to our students’ athletes before competition? Are our student athletes required to do a physical medical examination before we deem them suitable for competition? With the pending Boys and Girls Championship we should ask ourselves have we done all than we can to protect our athletes from all these eventualities?

Maybe it’s time parents become more proactive and form themselves into a lobby group, probably call it “Parents of Student Athletes”. Parents need to take a more active role in their children life. Parents must work together to bring about the changes necessary regarding the welfare and protection of their children. Too many of our students athletes suffer whenever they are injured because their parents and or guardians are unable to afford medical care. A delay in proper medical care can end the career and dash hopes of a scholarship for a student athlete. 

An area of concern is the nutrition of our student athletes. Are our student athletes eating a balanced diet? I make references not only to students who compete in track and field but also to other sports such as, football, rugby, and netball.

Last but by no means least we must ensure that our student athletes are knowledgeable about banned supplements/substances as outlined by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA?)

The time has come for the government of Jamaica to create a student athletes policy to guide the welfare of our current and future track stars. Let us not wait until another tragedy comes our way before we act on this matter. Jamaica’s continued success in track and field is dependent upon the decisions our policy makers must take. We owe it to our athletes and indeed to the country to ensure we put all measures in place to preserve our rich history in athletics.

Wayne Campbell

waykam@yahoo.com

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