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I KNEW ALL along that Minister of Sport Stephen Lashley recognized there was a moral responsibility to have inter-school sports this year by all means. So it is gratifying to hear that he’s committed to ensuring the games take place before the end of the school year. There have been well documented challenges standing in the way of both primary and secondary sports but I always believed that with some will coming from all the stakeholders, the obstacles could have been overcome. The proverbial hard road to travel came about when the relaying of the track at the National Stadium wasn’t completed as estimated to accommodate various meets and particularly school sports that are normally staged in March. They serve as a good prep for the CARIFTA Games and not to mention bragging rights that aren’t taken lightly. But better late than never, and hopefully sometime in May we can see the best scholastic track and field talent renew old rivalries with the usual intensity and competitiveness. Mind you, May is my own estimate simply because that is the time work is due to be completed but the logistics will have to be worked out and agreed across the board because consideration will be given to the scheduling of various examinations both at the primary and secondary level. The forthcoming round of talks between the relevant ministries and those charged with organizing the games should be cordial as they share the collective responsibility to make this national event a reality. The impression was given in an earlier setting that there was a tug-of-war and the inevitable blame game about which parties may have been responsible for not doing enough to make the events possible. Time is the greatest healer and I would like to think that people have had much needed time to reassess their positions because no effort should be spared to have the result we all want. Up to now something seemed to have been missing from our sporting landscape without school sports. The expectations of the athletes, the games and physical education teachers and the general public have been dented without the sports. The burden rests with the authorities to bring us some comfort. There are unanswered questions that need to be settled in Waterford. Who, for instance, will dethrone respective secondary schools champions Springer Memorial and Queen’s College and double-crowned primary schools champions West Terrace? Will the old stalwarts continue to dominate or will new stars rise to outshine them? It will be a travesty if we default in our duty to have these matters settled in the environment in which they are renowned. The school leavers in the secondary system and the 11-plus children would have tainted resumes if not given the chance to compete one last time. They must be afforded the opportunity to bow out and transition gracefully. We must also take into account that it could take a while to rebuild national confidence in such an event even if we only miss a year on what some may regard as frivolous grounds. For me, the only reasonable excuse for not staging the sports is if due to unforeseen circumstances the track won’t be finished in time. We can factor in everything else. Smiles will return to leaden faces once dates have been decided. I want to suggest that there should be limited access to the relaid track so that its normal lifespan will not be compromised by a free-for-all approach which has caused much damage to previous tracks. Meantime, best wishes to our CARIFTA athletes as they journey to The Bahamas this Easter weekend. Their preparations may have been limited but we have seen before where pride and industry have helped us to stand up and be counted. • Andi Thornhill is an experienced, award-winning freelance sports journalist.