‘BIG MONEY’ TRANSFER APPROVAL So, another chapter in the sordid affairs governing children at play, when “big money” is involved. The letter of the day from a member of the Jamaican Bar Association that appeared in this newspaper on Friday, March 17, reminds me of the present state of affairs in the English Premier League. Arsene Wenger, the man in charge of Arsenal Football Club has been reappointed year after year to lead the team to success, anywhere – the EPL, the Champions League … anywhere. He has failed year after year, yet year after year, he promises “soon”. The author of the letter in question has been leading the charge of athletes who run afoul of the regulations of the Jamaican Anti-Doping Commission, year after year, and has failed year after year to find success. Therefore, who is to blame? The referee, the pitch, the schedule, the tribunal, the procedure, the opinion writers? The list seems endless because under no circumstance must the finger be pointed where the blame really lies. Fans of Arsenal are asking “when will we win one?” Could there be a similar call here in Jamaica? Young Rodgers had his application to transfer to Kingston College (KC) approved and left his native land Uganda in time to fulfil the requirements of a successful transfer. However, a series of blunders, between airline staffers and German Embassy officials, resulted in a planned arrival in Jamaica on or around August 24, being transformed to his physical arrival here on October 16 and arriving on the doorsteps of KC on October 18 last year. Since his arrival, young Rodgers has excelled academically, and more important, it seems, has proven to be an exceptionally gifted middle- to long-distance runner. This has resulted in the young man becoming a firm candidate to earn 18 points for his school in the upcoming ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships (Champs) according to those who have become, by virtue of historical success, experts in making such predictions. His academic success in class (98% in a recent mathematics exam, according to his headmaster) seems to be of little interest to educators of rival schools. What has irked some of these leaders is the fact that he now has the potential to be a major factor in the ‘fight’ between the top schools to win at Champs, thus qualifying for mind-boggling monetary rewards, previously unheard of in this annual athletics competition. Thus the win-at-all-cost mantra of once-upon-a-time friendly rivalry among schools has resulted in a bizarre breach of accepted protocol regarding decisions made by the executive of Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA), the body of principals who control Champs, and the threatened withdrawal of one of the major players in Champs from participating in some of the pre-Champs ceremonies. This has resulted in a flurry of unsupportive comments on social media, and a call from a sports journalist for KC to ban this child from representing his school at Champs. The effect of all of this … “He is unhappy. He feels down, especially when he goes on Facebook and sees everything that is being said about him”, to quote his headmaster at KC, Dave Myrie, “The result of the objection of a rival school which, as revealed by the head of ISSA, has benefited from a similar ruling of ISSA in the past, is the mental and psychological abuse of a child!” An objection that has absolutely no chance of success if we are to believe the facts behind the decision of the executive of ISSA as outlined by the president. The response in Jamaica to the consistent and persistent abuse of its children has resulted in the formation of different organisations whose main aim is to sensitise us, the citizens, of the scope of the problem; and to identify ways to combat this blot on our yearning to be civilised. Betty Ann Blaine’s group, Hear the Children’s Cry, has made impressive headway in fulfilling this mandate. However, abuse continues apace, and the now increasing aggressive posture of new groups is causing mainstream Jamaica to respond in ways that appear to view protest as worthy of ‘lock down’. The continued abuse of our children is not limited, however, to physical and sexual abuse. The consistent and persistent psychological abuse of our young population is nurtured and perpetrated by some of the very organisations tasked with protecting our children from mental and psychological abuse. The brouhaha surrounding the (successful) attempt of those tasked with the upbringing of Ugandan teenager Arymanya Rodgers to come to Jamaica to live and continue his education brings into sharp focus the ‘abuse’ of a child.