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.