Competing in harmony and fair-play: annual school athletics championship closes Seychelles first Constitution Day
Some 1100 Seychellois athletes converged to Stad Linite on this Thursday June 18 for the annual athletics meet. (Joena Bonnelame, Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - For the first time this year, June 18 has been the setting for the annual National Schools Athletics Championship in Seychelles.
The annual championship, now in its 39th year, is an opportunity for Seychellois students from primary and secondary schools as well as post-secondary and tertiary education level to showcase their talents in track and field events from a 60 metre race for the youngsters to 1500 metres race for the older ones, relay, high jump, long jump and shot put.
During the previous 38 years, the sports event for school children across the country featured as the main item on the calendar for the Seychelles Independence Day activities on June 29.
1993 was the only year the championship failed to take place, as Seychelles was organizing the Indian Ocean island games.
The shift to June 18 was announced last year after it was decided that as of 2015 the day, which is a public holiday, would be known as 'Constitution Day' and June 29 would henceforth be known as the new National Day.
When giving the ‘coup d’envoie’ of the event this morning, the Seychelles Minister for Education Macsuzy Mondon said this marked another milestone in the country’s history and that of the national school’s athletics championship.
Under a clear blue sky and hot blazing sun, some 1,100 students from state and private educational institutions from all schools across Seychelles main populated island of Mahé as well as the second and third most populated islands of Praslin and La Digue converged to Stad Linite, the main Seychelles stadium on the outskirts of Victoria.
After months of intense preparation, this was their moment to showcase their talents and battle for medals and trophies in a spirit harmony and fair play.
The 2015 National Athletics Championship has seen the best of Seychelles young athletes compete in almost 100 track and field events.
SNA caught up with Calvin Rath from English River Secondary School, who appeared very confident as he explained that he was participating in the relay race.
“I think we will do our best and could even win a gold medal and make our school proud,” said Calvin.
|The 39th National Athletics Championship saw athletes compete in a total of 96 track and field events.(Joena Bonnelame, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
The education minister took the opportunity this morning to stress the importance and benefits of sport and physical activity on the minds body and health of the youths.
“Physical activity and sports whether competitive or recreational contribute towards the well-being of the young people and impact positively on their health. It is for this very reason that our ministry continues to promote health and physical education as a compulsory subject on the school timetable. An integral part of its goal is to promote the holistic development of a child,” said Mondon.
“I would like at this point to commend the youth department for having initiated the Seyx30 programme [30 minutes of various physical activities during the school week from Monday to Friday] to supplement what is timetabled and provides the students with the opportunity to have at least 30 minutes of physical exercise per day, a programme which many schools have already embarked on and which we encourage all students to join in as part of their ECA club.”
Mondon also appealed to the youths of Seychelles to choose a sport they would like to practice during their leisure time, adding that she was convinced that with the support and encouragement of their parents this would help them to become more disciplined and responsible.
|Spectators from all the schools across the country joined with parents and athletic fans to cheers the competitors as they battled for a spot on the podium. (Joena Bonnelame, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
As June 18 is a public holiday, the sports championship saw the stadium filled with hundreds of spectators including parents, family members and athletics fans cheering the young athletes as they sprinted to the finish line or try to jump furthest or highest to claim the gold, silver and bronze medals in each event.
The competition was also aimed at improving on 11 national records set last year as well as to establish new records.
Marlene Bonniface, who works for the Seychelles Public Transport Corporation (SPTC), told SNA that it was quite a busy day for them.
“By 9 am people started moving around a lot and it’s been busy ever since, with mostly parents and children going to the activities at Roche Caiman. So far I think we have done our best to help people arrive at their destinations even though it is a public holiday and everyone is on the go,” Marlene explained.
|The annual event is an opportunity to discover new talents. (Joena Bonnelame, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
For the first time this year, people who went down to the stadium could also enjoy what was happening through giant LED screens which have been installed at Stad Linite.
For those who could not make it to the stadium, the entire day’s event was broadcast live by the national television, the Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation as well as on the radio.
|Giant LED screen visible at Stad Linite. (Joena Bonnelame, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
The full day event, which started at 10.00am local time, culminated with the prize presentation ceremony which saw trophies presented to the best performing schools for the different age groups, overall prizes based on the number of points accumulated as well as a Fair Play award which is presented to the school whose athletes display a good level of respect and fair play towards fellow competitors and officials.
The school that took home the most trophies this evening was Anse Royale Secondary which for the third consecutive year emerged as the Overall Best School for this 39th championship. Anse Boileau Primary has taken over the title for Best Overall Primary school this year from Anse Royale Primary that won the title for the last two years.
Like Anse Royale, the Seychelles Institute of Technology has also retained its title for Best Overall Post Secondary/Tertiary education institution.
|Best Overall Secondary school Anse Royale athletes happily posing with their harvest of trophies. (Joena Bonnelame, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
39th National School Athletic Championship – Other main results
Fair Play Cup - Competitors
Baie St Anne Praslin Primary
Anse Royale Secondary
Seychelles Agricultural and Horticultural Training Centre
Fair Play Cup – Spectators
Anse Royale Primary
Anse Royale Secondary
Seychelles Institute of Teacher Education
|Seychelles President James Michel presented fair play trophies to winning schools. (Joena Bonnelame, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
Best small-sized Primary School
2 winners this year – La Digue Primary and Baie Lazare Primary
Most Gold Medals won
La Digue Primary – 5 Gold Medals
Anse Royale Secondary – 18 Gold Medals
Seychelles Institute of Technology – 8 Gold Medals
|President James Michel presenting La Digue school with the trophy for the most gold medals won at primary level. (Joena Bonnelame, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
For the second consecutive year, schools that have better prepared their athletes for this championship were also rewarded through ‘The Young Athletes Health Promotion Award’.
This is an initiative of the Seychelles Ministry of Health as part of its ‘My Health, My responsibility’ campaign launched early last year.
Since last year’s championship, a committee comprising of representatives of the Ministries of Health and Education, in collaboration with the National Sports Council and the Red Cross Society of Seychelles assessed the different schools on how they prepared their athletes before and during the championship.
Winners of the Young Athletes Health Promotion Award in 2015:
Anse Boileau Primary
Anse Royale Secondary
School of Business Studies and Accounting
|Health Minister Mitcy Larue presenting an Anse Boileau Primary athlete with the Young Athletes Health Promotion Award. (Joena Bonnelame, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
Most people SNA spoke to were not disturbed by the change which has seen the sports manifestation take place on June 18 instead of June 29.
“I will not attend the sports day at Roche Caiman, but I will follow the activities on television from home. My kids however will attend to support their friends,” said Frieda adding that as long as the youths still get their sports day, the change in the day it is held does not really matter.
The 2015 National Athletics Championship came to an end at around 5.45pm local time where the number of confirmed national records for the day stood at 8. The exact number of records will be made known later.
It is to be noted that some of the young athletes have used the championship as preparation for their upcoming participation in the Indian Ocean island games which will be held in Reunion island in August this year.