Published:Saturday | February 23, 2019 | 12:16 AM Livingston Scott/Gleaner Writer
Michael Ashenheim, of the Ashenheim family, the main benefactors of Jamaica College’s (JC) new Ashenheim Stadium, which was officially opened at the school grounds on Wednesday, hopes the facility will motivate youngsters to reach their full potential, as well as inspire his alma mater to their first Boys’ Champs title since 2011 and only their second in 19 years.
“To compete, you need good facilities. I don’t know if you saw the pitch where they trained before, it’s the same one I trained on in 1966, when I was at school. You can’t compete on the world stage, you can’t get to your potential without good facilities. Education is about getting students to their potential; this will help them reach their potential,” he told The Gleaner.
Ashenheim, who was an active track and field participant during his school days, longs to see JC win the Mortimer Geddes Trophy and he hopes the new infrastructure will give the boys a sense of pride and inspire their 22nd hold on the coveted Boys Champs trophy.
“Apart from last year, we are the king of the Manning Cup. But when last did JC win Boys Champs? We haven’t won Boys’ Champs for years, so Champs is my ambition,” he said.
“This is my old school, and when I was a schoolboy, I didn’t think I would one day be standing here doing this. It is fantastic, words can’t express. When they first came up with this, I didn’t think it was going to be of this quality. I hope they (school) feel the pride, because if you have pride in everything, you go far and you will achieve the pinnacle,” he added.
The opening was attended by a wide cross section of school family and several dignitaries, including Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who revealed Government’s assistance to the project, while encouraging other schools to be more self-sufficient in trying to acquire their needs.
“What Government gives high schools is not enough. But schools by their own resources and effort need to do more, and we encourage that. The old boys’ association of JC has done an amazing job. The Government recognised this effort and made a small contribution. Through the Ministry of Sports, $10 million was allocated and the Ministry of Education made a contribution of $20 million,” he noted.
“This is an expensive project, and that it was done mainly by private effort, is commendable. Let me add my congratulations. It will serve the students well, it will serve Jamaica well,” he added.
For long-serving Jamaica College track and field and football team manager, Ian Forbes, the first-class, first-world facility, which is equipped with a 400m, eight-lane synthetic track, a full-size football field, sprinkler system, lighting, seating and secured parking facility, will go a far way in helping youngsters prepare, train, develop and compete.
“It’s a dream come true. It will help to boost the morale of the boys, and schools that don’t have the resources, we see it as our duty to facilitate the development of sports, not only at JC, but Jamaica, and based on the surfaces, it will also help to minimise injuries, and for that we are very thankful,” Forbes said.