The Carifta Games are still as right for the young track and field athletes of the region as they were first staged in 1972. As seen last weekend, Carifta still gives the future stars of Caribbean track and field their first experience of international competition. It’s an invaluable first step on the way to the top.For so many, including the dominant Jamaican teams, it’s a maiden voyage into competition beyond their own shores into airline travel, different cuisine and unfamiliar stadia. It was a master stroke when the Barbadian Austin Sealyformulated the event in 1972. Now, as it was then, it’s like international competition 101.The Carifta Games also presents data for regional track and field administrators to learn from. While the sprints in both the Under-18 and Under-20 age categories had enough entries to require a preliminary round, that wasn’t the case in other events. While that wouldn’t be a surprise in the 1500m, 3000m and 5000m, there were no heats in the girls’ Under-20 800 metres, the 4x100m and 4x400m for boys and girls in both the Under-18 and Under-20 categories and in most of the hurdling events.Five girls faced the starter in the 400-metre hurdles for Under-18 girls, with four in the Under-20 version. This is startling, given the bright history in a discipline where Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados have produced high-class exponents. It was worse among the boys, with the corresponding numbers being five and three. Here the region has recently produced champions like Jehue Gordon of Trinidad and Tobago and Bahamian Jeffery Gibson.Four girls came to the blocks in the Under-20 100-metre hurdles and five young men came to contest the Under-20 110m hurdles.In the field, only three girls are listed as participants in the Under-20 high jump. This is in contrast to an apparent Caribbean upswing in the event. Just last year, Levern Spencer won this event at the Pan-American Games, with her St Lucian compatriot, Jeanelle Schepper, taking the NCAA title for the University of South Carolina. Earlier in March, the Barbadian Akela Jones cleared 1.98 metres in the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) indoors as part of the heptathlon. Jones also won the individual high jump as well.If those numbers represent ongoing trends, and in many cases they do, then the region has lots of work to do.Jamaica may be able to take care of itself. Thanks to the ISSA Boys and Girls’ Championships, our high schools pursue excellence in a wide range of athletic disciplines. Even here, there are long running weak spots in the jumps, throws and middle and long distance disciplines. The rest of the region doesn’t have Champs and needs help to spark development. Some, like St Vincent and the Grenadines, don’t even have a synthetic running track.Maybe that’s why Jamaica is becoming attractive to junior athletes from the region. They can’t wait until development comes to their island home. So they instead come to the place where, because of Champs, development is far more advanced. It’s a fair guess that they will keep on coming.n HUBERT LAWRENCE has made notes at track side since 1980.
The Maternity Ward of the Redemption Hospital in New Kru Town was a scene of joy for women who had just given birth on Saturday afternoon as the Management of Ecobank Liberia Limited (ELL) donated assorted food and non-food items to them. Nearly 100 women benefitted from the donation which was hand delivered to them (mothers) by Ecobank staff, led by their Executive Director, David Thompson and head of Domestic Banking, Madam Doreen McIntosh. The items were sorted out in black polythene bags.The Administrative Assistant to the Hospital’s Administrator, Ms. Fascia L. McCauley, and certified midwife, Mrs. Youngor Jackson, escorted the Bank’s delegation to the Maternal Ward to distribute the items. According to Ecobank officials, the donation is the bank’s way touching the lives of women and their children in celebration of Women’s Day across the globe. Surprised by the donation, the women said the gift items would not have come at a better time. One of the beneficiaries, Madam Lukiatu Passawe, thanked Ecobank Management for the surprised and promised to use the items for her baby’s wellbeing.“I am very happy, but surprise because nobody told us that Ecobank was coming here to make a donation to us,” she said. “The items Ecobank brought are those items that women need most when they have just given birth.”The package comprised of baby diapers and baby powers, soup, baby socks and several other assorted items for babies. Also in the package were sardines, luncheon meat and other food items.The Maternity Ward of the Hospital, our reporter say was jammed packed with women who had just given birth.Hospital officials told our reporter that most of the women and other patients prefer seeking medical attention to Redemption Hospital because the hospital provides free medical services to them. “You can see that all of the beds are jammed packed with women, who have just given birth. Most of them prefer coming here to deliver because medical services here are free,” this hospital staff said on condition of anonymity. Ma Zazay, who had just given birth to a bouncing baby boy, noted “Redemption Hospital is the only hospital I prefer taking treatment at.”She joined other women in the ward to thank Ecobank for the donation and urged the Bank to continue with its humanitarian gesture to other women who are in need.“I feel so happy and don’t know how to thank Ecobank for this gesture because I wasn’t expecting it. These gifts will help me a lot because they contain several items that I don’t have money to buy right,” she stated. The hospital’s certified midwife Youngor Jackson, for her part, thanked Ecobank for the donation “to the mothers who came to give birth.”“I believe that they will all remember these gifts since, in fact, they are receiving them on Women’s Day celebration.” According to Mrs. Jackson, remembering those women on Women’s Day means a lot to them. “I must appreciate Ecobank for this gesture because it is very timely,” she said.Mrs. Jackson expressed the hope that Ecobank will remember the women of Liberia and do more during the celebration of women’s day next year.The head of domestic Banking at Ecobank Madam Doreen McIntosh told reporters that Ecobank chose Redemption Hospital because the hospital is one of those government hospitals that have less fortunate patients. Madam McIntosh, who expressed her upbeat at the cleanliness of the Redemption Hospital, thanked the hospital’s Management for the ‘impressive’ work. “I see that the hospital is very clean and I see the children are being taken care of and the beds are filled with sick children. I was particularly happy when I saw the nurses taking care of all of the children, while it is true that our arrival was not unannounced. We all know how government hospitals can be in our part of the world, but Redemption Hospital is making the difference,” Doreen observed. She told reporters that Ecobank Management had gone to the hospital to donate to mothers that are desperately in need. “We came to identify with the less fortunate mothers in the maternity ward and so we gave them what we had and it is our hope that the items will help solve some of the many challenges they are encountering,” Doreen stated.Some of the items donated were baby diapers, powders, detergent, and baby bathing soap, napkins and other assorted items including provision–food items, amongst others.The Ecobank’s domestic bank boss noted that the donation was specifically for women and their children.“We are doing this because today is World’s Women’s Day,” she said.For his part, Ecobank Executive Director David Thompson wondered whether it is true that medical services at Redemption Hospital are actually free.“I think this is very great because I have seen the ward which is very great. I am impressed by the working spirit of the hospital staff and that this has given us the courage to extend this exercise to other government hospitals come next year,” said the Ecobank Executive Director.He said the objective of the exercise is to ensure that Ecobank helps the government to make life better for all Liberians.Mr. Thompson thanked the Management of Redemption Hospital for taking good care of the hospital and the patients and expressed the hope that patients who are currently admitted at the hospital get healed in the shortest possible time. Also on the Ecobank delegation was the head of Human Resource Madam Rose Wende. The cost of the assorted items is estimated at about US$5,000.00. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)