The care and protection of our children has been the subject of many stories in both the print and electronic media recently. The social media videos of parents “disciplining” children have prompted our Prime Minister to propose the banning of any form of physical contact between adult and child, when corrective measures are taken for perceived infractions (anti-social behaviour).
This suggestion has brought howls of protest from some who feel that a Government has no business being involved in the disciplining of a child in the home. That debate will continue, long before his suggestion is brought before Parliament in an effort to restrain corporate punishment of minors. But abuse of children has a mental aspect that I believe is being ignored.
The old-time mantra of “children must be seen and not heard” is slowly being replaced by “Talk up youth”, that encourages our young people to be vocal about issues that concern them, as they move from pre-teen to teenage, to adulthood. These are all excellent and important suggestions and interventions that aim to make the lives of our children “bearable”, eventually making the transition to adulthood seamless. But children live what they learn.
If we, the adults — those in charge of our young at school and at home — do not “live” the type of lives that we hope our young will emulate, then all the teaching, rules, and “talking to” that we engage in, will lead to the same the outcome: the production of adults who do very little to enhance the society that they will now be required to exist in, and improve.
The only way to positively affect the lives of children as they move to adulthood is to not only set rules, and apply sanctions for breaking these rules, but to show them the right way by making it very plain that there are certain occurrences that attract sanctions no matter who the perpetrators are.
The Flow Cup semi-final on Saturday the 18th of November saw the long awaited and anticipated rematch between schoolboy football “giants” Kingston College (KC) and Jamaica College (JC). JC had won a previous encounter that had the winning coach “boasting” that no schoolboy team could defeat his charges twice. There was, therefore, much significance in the outcome of this clash, as it offered not only bragging rights, but a chance to go on to the finals of what is the most lucrative of all the trophies at stake this year.
With seconds to go in the match, that saw momentum switching from end to end, KC were leading by 2 goals to 1. JC were pressing relentlessly, doing everything that their weary bodies could conjure up to get a goal that would force the match into the “lottery” of the dreaded penalty shoot-out where any team can win. An infringement occured at the edge of the KC penalty area. A free kick was awarded to JC, well within the range of the most lethal dead-ball kicker in schoolboy football this year.
The infringement was for “dangerous” play, a high boot that came close to the head of an onrushing JC player. The referee indicated that the result of the infringement was an “indirect” free kick. That decision was indicated to all and sundry by the referee holding his arm aloft, while ensuring that the ball was positioned where the infringement occurred and that the opposing players were at the required distance away from the position of the ball.
The dead ball maestro stepped up… bang, into the back of the net! Pandemonium, joy, unrestrained celebrations. Except, for a few knowledgeable observers, some of whom were on the KC bench. The ball went straight into the goal, without coming in contact with another player! No goal! KC had won! The direct shot at goal was an understandable mistake, given the circumstances of the match at the time of the infringement. These things happen all the time, especially when the perpetrator is young and enthusiastic, and well aware of his own ability.
However, as some from the opposing side celebrated, the players and support staff of JC, who were on the field of play, began to protest the referee’s decision to the extent where uniformed members of the security forces had to step in to protect the officials! Let me repeat, members of the security forces had to intervene to protect the officials in a schoolboy game, from players and adult support staff who were present on the field of play.
To my way of thinking, such a display of petulance that could lead to physical assault, brings the game into disrepute, and at least requires an investigation into what really occurred as there is video evidence as to who the perpetrators are. Such an investigation would send a clear message that referees’ decisions are final, and any attempt to abuse the official verbally or physically would lead to well-described and known sanctions. And yet, up to the time of writing, with JC due to play another very important match on the 22nd of November, nothing, nada, not a word from the governing body, ISSA or from the management and staff of JC who are aware of the implications of unsanctioned indiscipline and crass behaviour which brings the game into disrepute.
Then we wonder, why, and wring our hands in despair when children behave in ways that bring shame and scandal to schools and homes. Any action that brings the game of football into disrepute MUST be thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators sanctioned, even if the offending players have another important match in 3 to 4 days.
Our sport administrators and so-called molders of the life of our children are woefully falling down on the job. Our children NEED help. Who will step up to the plate and assist?