The two young men who have spent seven years training student athletes free of cost at Lluidas Vale Primary School in St Catherine are on the verge of ending the initiative due to a lack of financial support.
Renoy Butler, who conceptualized the programme that has brought scholarships and medals to the students and school, said there is no sponsor to help cover registration, transportation and accommodation for students participating in events across the island.
He noted that, as a result of the difficulty securing sponsorship, the students, for two years, were unable to participate in events such as the standard-bearing Insports Primary School Championship in Kingston.
“We didn’t go last year nor the year before because we were relying on the school and the councilor [for Lluidas Vale Division], and were told in the last minute they can’t assist us,” Butler explained.
“It’s very hard because all the expenses are on us (the volunteers) – and the parents can barely find it sometimes.”
Butler further stated that he, along with volunteer Gavin Shand, used personal funds – along with contributions from a few residents – to ensure five students attended the Insports Primary School Championship this year.
All five students advanced to semi-finals of their respective races. Two of them made the finals and respectively earned a silver and a bronze. The medalists have been offered scholarships by seven secondary schools that are known to have reputable athletics programmes.
Butler said he is disappointed that the programme is being scrapped.
“I am very very disappointed, but I understand that nothing in life comes easy. It’s been very rough for the past years, and I know ending the programme will impact a few of the kids, but the parents know and they have seen the struggles,” he further told The Beacon.
Shand, in the meantime, said the scrapping of the voluntary programme will negatively affect the promising young athletes it has discovered.
“The programme is being threatened for real due to the lack of sponsors. A lot of talents will ge blighted by that. The support is really weak.”
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