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School Games, Talents First!

Primary school pupils who took part in the just-ended 10th edition of the school games (FENASSCO B) in Bafoussam are back in their respective schools.

Without doubt, they are sharing the experiences of Bafoussam 2015 and brandishing medals won in the competition as they meet their peers for the start of the third term this Monday April 20, 2015.  The story is the same for secondary and high school students who earlier competed in the 17th edition in Nkongsamba for the FENASSCO A games.

Normally, this would have been a moment of real satisfaction for the athletes and their institutions had the original aim of the school games - detecting talents to be groomed for the various sport movements in the country, been respected to the letter. Unfortunately, reports from Nkongsamba and Bafoussam all pointed to persistence in the use of non-students and pupils, call them mercenaries, to compete and win medals for schools they are not enrolled in.

It emerged from the competition in Bafoussam that some 106 cases of fraud were detected and the athletes disqualified. Some unscrupulous and medal-thirsty officials, as is the case year in and out, went as far as doctoring the ages of some of these youngsters to conform. In fact, they employ every available means, holy or not, to win medals and go away with the prestige and other advantages that come with such elevations.

Come to think of it that these officials shamelessly established school identity cards for the mercenaries for the exercise. Fraud indeed, and paradoxically, during games whose slogan was, “Games for responsible citizenship remains unjustified.” Like in previous editions where the destroyer raised its ugly head, the fraud this year set a dangerous precedence at the base where good habits would have otherwise been imbued in the children for a better citizenship tomorrow. 

What a way of diverting a noble course to meet selfish needs! In other words, the regrettable behaviour disturbingly transforms the fora which would have detected budding talents to fit into the shoes of the Samuel Eto’os and Françoise Mbango Etones into a fraud nursery.  

It is common knowledge that a child grows up with what he/she learns at childhood. The Bible even teaches that “train up a child on the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Where then are we heading to? The saying that ‘youths are the leaders of tomorrow’ is almost becoming a cliché in most public speeches by senior State officials.

Regrettably, what is handed over to them or given them as education to accompany them as they grow, looking at the school games, is fraud. How would you stop him or her from attempting to cheat when he/she has been taught that ages could be tampered with and non-students brought in to win medals for schools they don’t attend? The practice in itself also veils the youngster whose talents would have been uncovered during the games and harnessed for his/her good as well as that of the country. The purpose of the games is therefore defeated in the growing ill that has found a soft spot in the competition initially tailored to bring best athletes in the school milieu across the country.

To say the least, this is a slap on the face of good governance the State and partners have been struggling over the years and spending huge sums of money to uphold. While waiting hopefully for announced sanctions on perpetrators of these destructive acts, someone somewhere absolutely needs to do something. Dissuasive tools are highly needed against the practice and others that have hijacked the country’s socio-cultural, political and economic fabric if the Cameroon of tomorrow must be better than that of today. The school games therefore need a complete overhaul to continually pursue the lofty objectives for which they were instituted.  

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