THE changing perception of sports from being only for the academically challenged to one which offers a genuine career path has upped the ante among local tertiary institutions, as they jostle to attract the most talented athletes through scholarships for study. In the last few years, several of Jamaica’s most successful junior and youth athletes have been going on to higher education at local institutions such as the University of Technology (UTech), University of the West Indies (UWI) and The Mico University College. In fact, the G.C. Foster College of Physical Education and Sport, which was once the premier institution to attend for sports persons, especially those who wished to pursue a career in the teaching, has suffered. The school’s principal, Joyce Graham-Royale, told The Gleaner yesterday that many athletes had chosen other tertiary institutions because of the range of programmes offered. “Offering scholarships now has become very competitive. Most of the other prominent schools are offering scholarships. It’s a question of who can offer them the most,” she said. “The whole sporting landscape has changed and everybody is recognising that it has changed and a lot of sportsmen and women are springing up and there has to be an avenue for them to improve and get an education at the same time, and so we are creating them,” she added. Graham-Royale, who was an education officer for physical education and sports with the Ministry of Education before becoming principal at G.C. Foster, said a major part of the shift started when the curriculum for physical education in primary and high schools changed. “It is now examined at both CSEC and CAPE Levels. Sport is big business and everybody is wanting a piece of the pie right now,” she said. “The colleges and universities are getting more students who are more aware of the importance of participation in physical education and sport. The schools are preparing them at that level and the universities are coaching them at that level.” Netball has benefited significantly, with many national players now attending universities locally on scholarships. These include Vangelee Williams and squad member Trishana Hanson, who attend The Mico and Malysha Kelly, Tristina Harwood, Nadine Bryan, Shadian Hemmings, Antonette Stone and Shameera Sterling, who have or are attending the UWI. Director of Sports at The Mico, Raymond Graham, told The Gleaner that his institution started offering scholarships to netballers as intercollegiate sports became more competitive. “(We wanted) to give an education, a degree and also there are very good student athletes. Everyone has become very competitive. A lot more people are staying in Jamaica now and college rivalry is a big thing now for bragging rights,” he said. Heavy recruitment “They (universities) are recruiting hard and it’s about who can get the best,” he added. UWI director of sports, Dalton Myers, said the university opened up its scholarship offerings in 2010 and immediately reaped the benefits, having won the Inter-collegiate netball crown twice and made it to four finals in the last five years. “We recognised that we wanted to give more sports scholarships and Netball Jamaica wanted to keep their athletes home. A lot of them were going away and we wanted to help the association and Jamaica in general, helping them to be a part of the national setup.” Myers noted that 2016 Rhodes Scholar, Sherona Forrester, who attended the UWI on a football scholarship, also played netball for the university. Graham-Royale noted that helping students gain an education was of utmost importance. “They need something to backup if the sport doesn’t work out and that’s why they register at G.C. Foster,” she said.
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Mauricio Pochettino has urged his players to remain confident that they can catch Leicester City in the hunt for the Premier League title.The Lilywhites defeated Manchester United on Sunday afternoon, securing a 3-0 win to close the gap on first placed Leicester to seven points.This was after having seen the Foxes move 10 clear earlier in the day, but Pochettino’s players looked unfazed with the challenge presented to them.They struggled in the early parts of their clash with the Red Devils, but goals from Dele Alli, Toby Alderweireld and Erik Lamela secured all three points to remain in the hunt.The situation for the title is the same as it was at the start of the weekend, but with one game fewer for Spurs to close the gap, and Pochettino wants his players to still believe that the North London club can win the Premier League trophy.The Argentine boss said: “We need to keep fighting and try to reduce the gap. We know this is very difficult as Leicester are in a very good moment, but we need to try always. It’s important to believe and to try to get points.”Tottenham started slowly in their clash against the Red Devils, and it looked as if they may struggle to break down a very defensive team.However, Pochettino was pleased with how his players won the game at White Hart Lane, as they were playing against one of the strongest teams in England.“I think when we analyse the game we always have to know that we play against teams who play very well,” he added.“Manchester United is one of the best teams in England. I think we need to be proud in the way we won the game.”