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Growing trend of school transfers


Andi Thornhill

Growing trend of school transfers

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BET?YOU?didn’t know there is an unofficial transfer market in school sports at the secondary level.
It seems to me its prevalence has the singular objective of winning the championship or improving ratings from a previous year.
On the one hand, this approach confirms the importance of school sports at this level and the bragging rights that go with it. Thus, we can understand the fierce rivalry that once existed between the older secondary schools whose sports meet was separate from those of the newer ones until the amalgamation in 1985.
In the older format the biggest rivalry in the boys existed between Harrison College and Lodge and there were ding dong battles, too, among the girls and coming on to the end of this era, Foundation was arguably the school on most people’s lips.
Sixth form factor
A significant point that needs to be introduced early in this piece is that back in the day, transfers only became a reality in situations where you moved to an institution with a sixth form because none existed at your school.
In that respect, a sixth form school would have been able to benefit from the excellence of an athlete from another school. In fact, this principle still applies and you can’t fault an institution if such a scenario plays out through conventional means.
There is no reason, if an athlete is academically capable, that he shouldn’t be encouraged to master both disciplines.
My understanding is that when they go to receive higher learning atoverseas institutions there is even greater pressure to twin athletic excellence with school work. Out you go if you can’t attain such a balance.
We somehow get the feeling that the transfer system now is being configured to help boost a school’s chances of doing well at the championships.
Academics in some cases aren’t a consideration, either, when the scouts target particular talents they think will help them lift the challenge trophy at the end of five days of gruelling sporting combat.
Let’s say theoretically that a particular student goes from one school to another and helps them win the championship but at the end of his school life has little to show in terms of certification. The question should be asked, who was the real beneficiary in such an arrangement?
Who will that student turn to for help after completing secondary education?
Who will he/she have to lean on just in case deviancy steps in as many doors have been known to be closed on underachievers in this society, no matter how good a sportsman you are?
In other words, I think the parents and athletes in some situations must sit and holistically analyze not only the short-term concepts that might serve to massage the ego of a few but also what happens in the long term when there is no school umbrella to shelter under and you have to survive in the torrents of ups and downs life can bring.
Some people can afford to be mercenary because their bread is already buttered, but when you are not sure when or where even the next crumb is coming from, I believe you have to be more circumspect and there are those in the school system who will prey on the weak and the vulnerable.
I believe some schools know full well that some of their intake for possible sporting gain struggle academically and nothing will change in this aspect when they move into another environment. It is in stances like these that it’s better to let that child remain where they are and let their current teachers try to make a hand of them than for them to go elsewhere and still not improve.
I agree, though, that sometimes a change in environment can make for better all-round performances in the school system but those of us who follow athletics closely know of instances where the motive of transfers had only to do with that student’s ability to run fast or jump high.
Many moons ago I know many a parent would have had no reservations in sending their children who had sporting ability to St George Secondary or St Lucy Secondary, to mention a couple, because they were very strong in cricket and track and field.
Perhaps the same thinking applies to Springer Memorial now because of their great legacy of success in several sports but particularly athletics.
Let’s, ponder on this, though: is there any special reason why some of the star athletes are transferred to schools associated with academic excellence and social prestige as opposed to those that supposedly aren’t?
For athletic glory Is it by mere coincidence or is there a lesson in the fact that schools like Harrison College and Queen’s College don’t appear to induce students from rival schools to join their track and field battalion?
I honestly can’t say I know what is their practice once students from other schools become eligible for sixth form but I would want to hold them to the highest standards.
The other fact of the matter is that some become so hungry for the title and ruthless to the point where they do not appear to be concerned that they are actually conspiring to weaken the forces of mainly the newer secondary schools who, too, in many instances might have legitimate expectations of winning.
The highest authorities at the schools accommodating some transfers with sporting benefits in mind are also contributing to the festering of a bad concept.
Schools must be seen to be using the resources they acquired from the Common Entrance Exam and try hard to turn them into a winning unit.
They need not be desperate because the chips usually fall where they are supposed to. Going into the transfer market just for the sake of athletics glory isn’t necessary.
 • Andi Thornhill is an award-winning freelance journalist.

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