In what ap­peared to be an en­thu­si­as­tic open­ing for the sec­ondary schools 2018 sea­son, the news of schol­ar­ships must be great for the ears of par­ents who are hop­ing that the foot­ball tal­ent of their chil­dren will get them to the USA to play foot­ball and get an ed­u­ca­tion in ex­change.

The at­trac­tive open­ing for the sea­son is ap­pro­pri­ate for all con­cerned and the school's foot­ball fans must be ex­cit­ed. Hav­ing been lit­er­al­ly a pi­o­neer for this type of ex­po­sure for our out­stand­ing school­boy foot­ballers to the Unit­ed States Uni­ver­si­ties, whose de­sire for de­vel­op­ing the qual­i­ty of foot­ball since the late six­ties, our stu­dents have ben­e­fit­ted im­mense­ly.

Ad­mit­ted­ly, the ear­ly en­try in­to the North Amer­i­can Uni­ver­si­ty sys­tem was sim­ple and did not war­rant a guar­an­tee of strin­gent Aca­d­e­m­ic stan­dards from our stu­dents, most of whom were aca­d­e­m­i­cal­ly strong. I dis­tinct­ly re­call the names of per­sons like Alvin Hen­der­son (now Doc­tor), Ian Bain, Kei­th Look Loy, Neil Williams, Dr. Trevor Lei­ba, Sha­ka His­lop, through to Dex­ter Skeene, David Nakhid, Mar­lon Charles, Veron Skin­ner, Derek Lewis, Richard Chi­napoo, Dami­an Coop­er, Graeme Ro­driguez, and lit­er­al­ly hun­dreds ben­e­fit­ting from the op­por­tu­ni­ty.

In those days, those play­ers were bril­liant stu­dents hence their ab­solute suc­cess at at­tain­ing their suc­cess in the class­room and at the same time im­prov­ing the qual­i­ty of foot­ball, enough to earn na­tion­al team se­lec­tion.

This trend had con­tin­ued for a pe­ri­od of time. Then the NCAA de­cid­ed that en­try in­to the sys­tem need­ed a bet­ter aca­d­e­m­ic base such as five sub­jects, a good SAT score and even de­mand­ed that stu­dents who wished to en­joy the op­por­tu­ni­ty to gain schol­ar­ships must re­frain from join­ing pro­fes­sion­al ranks at home pri­or­i­ty to at­tend­ing uni­ver­si­ty.

The added de­mand af­fect­ed the num­ber of schol­ar­ships, be­cause of the in­abil­i­ty of many stu­dents who were promis­ing foot­ballers, was not aca­d­e­m­i­cal­ly strong and were not ac­cept­ed.

Strange enough, the de­sire to have stu­dent gain schol­ar­ships dug deep in­to the hearts of some school prin­ci­pals and the ab­sence of at­tend­ing school for the gift­ed foot­ballers, did not af­fect their se­lec­tion in the School teams.

Our sec­ondary schools dur­ing the re­cent past, have been re­cruit­ing play­ers from one school to an­oth­er, some­times even pri­or to their fi­nal year, so that they can strength­en an­oth­er school.

My ob­ser­va­tion has been a more chal­leng­ing op­por­tu­ni­ty to find the top foot­ball play­ers who can aca­d­e­m­i­cal­ly qual­i­fy to gain the schol­ar­ships that are avail­able.

What we have seen is that dif­fer­ent sys­tems of en­try in­to Ju­nior col­leges for the “not so bright”ones have un­der­tak­en over from the Uni­ver­si­ties of ad­vance cred­i­bil­i­ty, de­spite the less qual­i­fied stu­dents.

To­day, the op­por­tu­ni­ty of­fered by some Uni­ver­si­ties to our cur­rent play­ers should be a form of en­cour­age­ment to stu­dents who aca­d­e­m­i­cal­ly strong enough to gain en­try to these in­sti­tu­tions.

There are SAT class­es all around the coun­try and the em­pha­sis to pre­pare the stu­dents must come from the school teach­ers, whose love for pro­vid­ing the foot­ball teams with the tal­ent­ed ones, must ex­tend their role as aca­d­e­m­ic teach­ers as will­ing­ly as they view the stu­dent's foot­ball ca­reer.

Maybe I could have learnt the sys­tem dur­ing my col­lege days, when the prin­ci­pal of Fa­ti­ma Col­lege, in­sist­ed up­on the ath­letes get­ting spe­cial class­es be­fore they re­turned home, but hav­ing our ded­i­cat­ed school teach­ers to en­sure that they do their home lessons.

We are in search of stu­dent-ath­letes for the uni­ver­si­ties abroad. To­day's stu­dent-ath­letes just need to look at the his­to­ry of the stu­dents who were pi­o­neers in the 1960s, 70s and 80s and see where their pro­fes­sions have tak­en them be­cause of foot­ball. Par­ents, this is a les­son for you as well. We need well-round­ed young­sters and you have a role to play.