Student athletes in the Federation are currently in their final preparations for the scholastic meets that will be held over the next two weekends, but under a cloud of financial debt.
St. Kitts and Nevis Amateur Athletics Association (SKNAAA) held a launch event for both events on Tuesday with new President Val Henry noting the Association is aiming to be financially prudent having incurred more than $500,000 of debt, having to be bailed out by the Government.
The Rams Primary School Championships and CARIFTA Trials are slated for the 17th and 18th of March and the Trading Development Company (TDC) Inter High School Championships will be held from the 23rd to the 25th at the Kim Collins Athletic Stadium.
Part of the financial restructuring will involve changing the ticket prices. Which are a bit lower than previous years.. Prices for the Rams Primary Championships and the high school tournament the following week will run from $10 to $15 general admission and $25 to $35 for the Kim Collins Pavillion. There are also $50 tickets for the popular Sunday event.
“This weekend with the Rams Primary School and next weekend when we combine the overall expenditure that we are anticipating the total will be over $200,000. The expenses are used for providing for our athletes, security, the gate personnel, overlay and also have to factor other expenses,” Henry disclosed.
He reiterated that the general admission tickets are lower than previous years.
“For the High school competition we have had crowds as high as 8,000 people. The Kim Collins Pavillion seats about 600, the two metal stands seat 1000 people. The rest of the spectators go to the grounds.”
He noted the seating area for the grounds is larger than the pavilion and the stands combined.
Twenty two primary schools featuring more than 800 students from around St. Kitts will be competing for athletic supremacy this weekend as they look to unseat current two time champions Dr. William Connor Primary.
Managing Director of Rams, the Main sponsors for the primary school event, Shaun Weston said that his company was proud to be associated with the event, a partnership that has lasted more than three decades. “We have seen the championship grow from strength to strength with the combined efforts of the SKNAAA, the Ministry of Sports and Education and our partners who continue to give of time and resources,” he said.
He then called on the general public to come out and support the student athletes. “The environment this weekend, is one that you have to experience. When you see the enthusiasm of the young athletes then you will understand why the investment is not in vain.”
Next weekend it will be the high schools turn in the spotlight as all the secondary schools and colleges from across St. Kitts and Nevis will aim to stop the track and field dynasty of the Charles E Mills Secondary school.
TDC has been sponsoring the event for 42 years and its Client Relations and Marketing Manager Mia Bailey indicated that the partnership has been able to pave a way for the junior athletes to thrive in track and field.
“We have partnered with the SKNAAA to revive athletics in the Federation. We find that the championships brings everyone together and see all the excitement from the children, the volunteers and the parents,” she said.
Minister of Sports and Education the Hon. Shawn Richards noted the championships represents the multifaceted influence of sports in our society. “The Rams Primary championships and the TDC inter-school championships attract the largest following of any single organise event in our Federation each year.
“The two meets which were diverse in their origin have grown to a size and stature that is befitting the recognition given to theses championships within the hearts and minds of the people of St. Kitts and Nevis,” Richards said.
He then encouraged all to support the athletes on show. “What we will witness over the next two weekends is the culmination of the hard work, discipline dedication and sacrifice of students, teachers, coaches and schools.
“Since last year there have been student athletes who have applied themselves to the training regime needed to get them to these championships,” Richards said
On Tuesday the SKNAAA host an elimination for primary school athletes to try and qualify for the final this weekend for various the field and some track events.