ISSA remains resolute on schoolgirl cricketers stance
ISSA competitions director George Forbes has responded to Sports Minister Olivia Grange's criticism of the body for not allowing Eltham High student Rashardo Williams, a female cricketer, to play in its Under 19 Grace Shield competition for boys.
Grange had said on Wednesday that she is not satisfied with ISSA's given reason for barring Williams from the competition - this reason being protecting female cricketers from injuries they may incur from facing bigger, stronger male opponents. She made reference to Windies Women's team captain Stafanie Taylor, who had represented Eltham, but at the Under 16 level before being called to the regional side. Grange said that if Taylor was prevented from playing in the Grace Shield, she would not have achieved her current success.
However, Forbes said that the role of ISSA is "to facilitate young athletes' talents to a certain dimension."
"ISSA cannot be the developer of talent in this country," Forbes said. "We are there to facilitate students showcasing their talents to a certain dimension. If you have a talent and we see that, we work out something for them to showcase their talent. We can't be held responsible for the development of a student. That is not our purview. That has to be the purview of the parent companies - the JCA (Jamaica Cricket Association), the JFF (Jamaica Football Federation) and so on, and so forth."
When asked what if parents give consent for their daughters to play in male competitions, Forbes' response was: "Go to a club! There are clubs who play cricket."
However, he mentioned that ISSA does allow females' participation in male sports, but only up to age 16.
"After 16, we don't think it is in their best interest for them (females) to be playing against (males) with higher levels of testosterone and so on. I don't think people will say to ISSA: 'Allow a six-foot four (inches) 220lb male to play netball and play against a five foot, two, or three, 110lb girl.'
"We allow them to play to a certain age and then after that, we have to save people from themselves," he explained.
Forbes said that ISSA is protecting Williams because of an incident involving her in a cricket match, which he considered dangerous to her well-being.
"She was playing in a game and she was almost beheaded by a ball," he said. "Can you imagine young (Oshane) Thomas who's playing for the West Indies A now, he just left school. If we were to allow that young man to bowl to that young lady, what do you think would be the end result?"