Friday, March 17, 2023
By TENAJH SWEETING
With the CARIFTA Trials & High School National Track and Field Championships set to take place in a combined event on March 25-27, some parents criticised the organisers’ decision to remove the under-15 division.
The CARIFTA Trials and Nationals would usually take place as two separate track and field events but this year, due to financial complications, the Ministry of Youth, Sports, and Culture (MOYSC) and Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) made the decision to combine the events, making it the final track event before April’s 50th CARIFTA Games.
Despite the decision to cut costs by having a single event, the BAAA president acknowledged that there were some complications that came with this decision.
Drumeco Archer, president of the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations, talked about one of the problems ahead of next weekend’s trials.
“The age of qualifying for the CARIFTA Games starts at the age of someone turning 14 or someone who is 14 within the CARIFTA year, so that creates a fundamental problem for us because if a child competes in the under-15 category, which is combined with the under-17 category, that child runs the risk of not qualifying for the team because we expect all our athletes to compete in head-to-head competition,” Archer said.
He said to come to a happy medium, they simply decided to create a new division called the under-14 division after removing the under 13 and 15 divisions. Archer added that the alternative to this “inherent” problem would be to have a single event for the CARIFTA Trials and High School Nationals, which is not feasible for the athletes or event organisers.
“That would have been ideal but there are financial implications there because now we are saying to the athletes you must come to CARIFTA Trials and to the Nationals on two separate occasions, hotel costs are mounting and the average hotel room rate is about $350,” Archer said.
He continued to say it is financially taxing on both the Government of The Bahamas, schools and individual students.
Hence, he said the BAAAs, in conjunction with the MOYSC, wanted to host a high-level competition in the most cost effective way.
Cherelle Cartwright, parent of a child in the under-15 division, talked about why she disagreed with the organisers’ decision to remove the under-15 division.
“I am not fond of it simply because of the reason that a lot of the children who are coming from other islands for the nationals, like my son, this might be their first time getting involved. “Nationals or CARIFTA what happens now is that you are allowing the under-15 children to compete with children that are outside of their age range,” Cartwright said.
Despite understanding the CARIFTA Games is primarily for the under-17 and under-20 age group, Cartwright believes eliminating the under-15 age group will not be beneficial for the younger athletes as running with the older athletes takes away from the under-15 athletes that are accustomed to running within their normal age group.
“The under-15s now have to go with the under-17s and you are putting them in a competitive zone that they are probably not even going to compete at when you look at those times of the under 17s.
“I don’t see the need to do that and totally take out that category,” she added.
The parent said combining the events is fine but the entire elimination of the under-15 division does not seem beneficial for athletes looking to compete in the Nationals and takes away from what the event is all about.
BAAA president Archer maintains organisers are trying to create a high-level meet and do that in the most inclusive way.
The CARIFTA Trials and Nationals are expected to start March 25-27 at the Thomas A Robinson National Stadium. The combined event will feature the under-14 girls and boys, under-17 girls and boys and the under-20 girls and boys.