Ed Caesar urges athletes to strive for a sound educational backgroundFORMER Chief Education Officer (CEO) of the Ministry of Education, Ed Caesar, is of the firm belief that successful and progressive athletes in any discipline are those who are academically qualified.This statement was made yesterday when the Pele Football Club Alumni Corporation launched its inaugural Youth Development Programme at the Carifesta Sports Complex, Carifesta Avenue, Georgetown.Caesar, who opened the floor with a presentation on `Importance of Academics as a Sportsman/Woman, told the over 50 youths present that without a proper education, an athlete, regardless of his/her skill level, will one day have to find another source of income, especially in their later years, hence it is important that they strive hard to have a sound educational background.Caesar pointed out that while serving as the CEO with the ministry and even now while being an external examiner for Physical Education in Guyana not many secondary schools are placing much emphasis on sports education. He however noted that all secondary schools in Region 6 have a physical education programme.According to Caesar, many secondary school heads do not understand or refuse to understand the importance of physical education which is now a CXC subject.“There are people in our country who do not understand the importance of sports and academics,” the former CEO lamented and went on relate that studies have shown that when an individual participates in sports and that individual is academically qualified, that person will be more focused and better able to make decisions under pressure. “You cannot do this if your academic is not on par,” Caesar lamented.Caesar pointed out that as an athlete, a time will come and they will get old and their skill level will drop, “so what are you going to turn back to?” Caesar questioned.Caesar is of the view that Guyana does not have coaches who sit with their charges and stress the need for them to become academically qualified. All they (coaches) are interested in is for the team to win matches or individual honours, but they are not instilling the need to be academically qualified,” Caesar stated.Caesar reminisced on his youthful days when he attended a university in Canada and was a member of the university’s track and field team. Caesar said each weekend, the team’s coach will sit with the team members and the coach will find out from each athlete, how their academic programme is going. This does not happen in Guyana,” the former CEO lamented, adding, “This is what needs to be done.”Meanwhile, yesterday’s sessions also included Personal Hygiene, Proper Decision-Making, Sports Clinic – Physiotherapy, Public Speaking and Benefits of Athletics presentations.Today, the participants will go on two field trips; the first will be one to the Eugene F. Correia International Airport and the other to Banks DIH Limited, Thirst Part.Tomorrow, participants will learn about Understanding the Role of Computers, compliments of Computer World and Life Style/Etiquette, compliments of the Carnegie School of Home Economics.Tomorrow also, from noon to 15:00hrs, there will be a luncheon and presentation of awards, while from 15:00hrs there will be a summary of the programme.