Calabar, the defending boys team champion of the Inter-Secondary School Sports Association (ISSA) Boys and Girls Champs, is considering a boycott of the event over its objection to the association’s approval of a transfer student to compete for Kingston College, Calabar’s long-time rival. The competition is scheduled to be held at National Stadium on March 28 to April 1, 2017
Aryamanya “Ari” Rodgers, a top-ranked student from Uganda, was given approval to compete despite not meeting all the criteria required for eligibility. Calabar already boycotted the media day established for the event two weeks ago and returned the Mortimer Geddes trophy, which is given to the Champs winner each year, a full 12 days earlier than required. According to Albert Corcho, Calabar school president, ISSA should provide a formal explanation, in writing, of why it decided to exempt Rodgers from the eligibility rules and suggesting that Calabar would boycott the event if the association does not reverse its ruling.
The rules state that a student from another country or a non-member school must meet three criteria in order to compete in Champs: 1) be under 16 years old, 2) be registered in school by September 30, and 3) have an 80-percent school attendance record. Rodgers did not come to Jamaica until October 2016 because of immigration and visa problems that lasted several months. The school officially accepted Rodgers on July 11, 2016, and he officially registered on July 18. He made several attempts to get to Jamaica but was thwarted by visa requirements, finally being able to fly from Uganda via the Netherlands to Curacao and them Jamaica, arriving on October 16, 2016, and attending his first day at Kings College on October 18.
ISSA held a special meeting to decide the fate of the track athlete at which ten of the 15 principals were present, and eight voted to allow him to compete. If the decision stands, it is believed that Rodgers could sweep the Class 2 distance events as he has never been beaten in the 4k and 1500 meters. He also represents a threat in the 800 meter event.
Photo: Calabar Facebook