Merlene Ottey High falters ...school named in honour of Olympian struggling

September 16, 2016
File Merlene Ottey
Jeffrey Perry (left) of Merlene Ottey High looks to deny Rusea's High School's Leonardo Fogarty a clear chance at goal in their Group B matchup llast season. Rusea's won 5-0.
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Merlene Ottey High School, the Hanover institution named in honour of the nine-time Olympic medallist, is in dire need of funding for its sports programmes.

The lack of funding forced the school out of this year's Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA)/ FLOW daCosta Cup football competition.

The school, built in 1988, was formerly called Cascade Secondary Vocational School, but was renamed in honour of Ottey in October 1993.

Principal, Joan Jackson-Cope told STAR Sports that the school is trying to rebuild at the Under-14 and Under-16 levels.

"We have a lack of funding and numbers to field a team at the daCosta Cup level," she said, while admitting that the school's geographical location in Pondside, Hanover, makes it hard to attract the talent and resources to compete.

"We are struggling with sporting activities, lack of talent who play in the Manning Cup and if we take on a coach to run the programme full time we have to know where the resources are coming from," she added

Girls at the school competed at the annual ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls' Championships for the first time last year.

"There are those of us who work hard, but it is difficult for us to have that level of commitment from persons outside which would assist us financially," she underlined.

"The children sometimes lose interest because sometimes it costs so much for us to take them to competitions, as much as $12,000 for a trip and to keep them on a sustained feeding programme. It is hard for us to give them the vitamins and whatever supplements they need to keep them out there competing," stressed the principal.

She did, however, point out that the school has a fairly new Old Boys and Girls fraternity which try to assist with funding.

"We have our group that is a fairly new, where old boys and girls try to work together and get support for the school," she said, adding that the school encourages talent who want to pursue sports elsewhere to do so.

"If we have someone who has the skills necessary like our last goalkeeper, he would have passed seven subjects going off, so we asked Herbert Morrison High, with the coach's support, to take him. The coach would have allowed him to be accepted at Herbert Morrison, so we do this in the best interest of the child," she said.

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