Is this the best time of year to host the Regional Schools Athletics Championships?

Dear Editor,
For the past few years, I have been trying to convince the Athletic Association of Guyana; the Ministry of Education; the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport; and the Guyana Teachers Union that they need to reschedule the Regional Schools Athletics Track and Field Championships to a time of the year that coincides with the Caribbean’s premier secondary schools’ athletics championships, and one that would ensure optimum performance by our student-athletes.
The situation in secondary schools’ track and field in Guyana has for many years now been extremely abysmal, at best. To the best of my knowledge, we do not have secondary schools track and field championships in Guyana, what we have is a Regional Championship, but this is not the issue that I want to highlight here, my bone of contention is that these championships are held at the wrong time of the year.
The premier secondary school track and field championships are the Junior Carifta Games, normally held over the Easter weekend, or on days leading up to the Easter weekend every year since inception of the games. Editor, permit me to list the dates that all the Caribbean countries held their secondary school championships this year (2023); Antigua and Barbuda: March 10th – 12th; Barbados: March 29th – 31st; Jamaica: March 28th – April 1st; Bermuda: March 14th – 17th; St Lucia: March 11th – 12th; Granada: March; St Kitts and Nevis: March; Cayman Islands: March 22nd; Trinidad and Tobago: March 1st – 2nd; Dominica: March 12th; Guyana: November 27th – December 2nd; The Junior Carifta Games were held on April 7th – 9th 2023.
The problem is obvious: our young athletes are being set up for failure, they are peaking at the end of November when they should be peaking at the same time as the rest of the Caribbean athletes, and that is March-April; a time closest to the championships. The point that I am trying to make here is that our Inter-Schools and Inter-Regional Track and Field Championships should be held towards the end of January or mid-March in order to coincide with the Carifta Games. This will be in keeping not only with the rest of the Caribbean countries, but also with the rest of the Western world, which start their indoor season in January and end in March;(the outdoor season starts in April and ends in June).
Only in Guyana, our track season runs from September to November. What is wrong, as noted above, is that all the other Caribbean countries have their secondary school championships in March, which means that their athletes are in peak competitional readiness and conditioning at the right time.
Sending our young athletes to these games should not only be about medals, but also about showcasing their talent for them to secure scholarships. Universities and colleges in the USA are awarding thousands of athletics scholarships every year to young athletes from around the world. These colleges send their scouts to our regional championships, like the Junior Carifta Games, scouting for new talent; and for this reason, we need to take full advantage of this golden opportunity to get our youths a free university education and exposure to the NCAA Division 1 sports.
For the reasons stated above and much more, too much to mention in this letter, I would like to advise the Ministry of Education and the Guyana Teachers Union to take a serious look at this issue and reschedule our National Championships to a time closer to the Junior Carifta Games. The current timing of these championships is wrong, and we are setting our student-athletes up for failure.

Donald P Archer

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