JAVA takes parish route to development
The St Elizabeth Volleyball Association became the fourth new parish association, and third since January, to team up with the Jamaica Volleyball Association (JaVA), when it elected an interim executive to be led by president Dietrich Christie, Omar Thomas as general secretary, and Suellen Blake, treasurer.
The move follows a mandate from new president, Rudolph Speid, aimed at establishing parish affiliates, organising competitions and developing and promoting the sport at the parish level.
Christie, who will oversee the operations of the association for the next 18 months, intends to revitalise interest.
"'It's a bold step in the right direction. The sport is not the most popular for St Elizabeth, but it is a great addition to the sporting arena. It's not only for students, as we hope to incorporate more persons into being active, as not everyone can do the mainstream sports.
"Generally, it's a dormant sport with non-cooperative entities, but we can capitalise on the individuals from Malvern who play at Bethlehem court and also those by the park at Treasure Beach where they do it for fun," he said.
"They (JaVA) gave us 18 months, and I will try my best and will stretch and use as much of my resources to make things possible, as the executives have set some guidelines of what we want to achieve on a monthly basis," he told The Gleaner.
For years, Westmoreland was the only registered parish association, but since elections in October, others were formed in St James and St Thomas, in January.
"We are putting in the background work to ensure that we have a successful JaVA. Our ambition is to popularise, commercialise and professionalise the sport, as we believe we can move the sport to number two in Jamaica easily," said Speid.
"The long-term target is for Jamaica to become the beach volleyball destination of the Caribbean, but the immediate target is to set up parish associations, fix the constitution, become a limited liability company and have merits in our competitions," he declared.
However, he insists that they must have the full membership by August, as it is key to organising its annual calendar.
"We want each parish to have a senior competition between September and December, so all the champions can go into a play-off system for the Premier League, and that is why we want to put everything in place by August," Speid outlined.
"Things are going according to plan, and we expect to start the Premier League on March 7. We didn't have any league last year, and we want to have our full calendar this year," he added.
Hard court tournaments will run from March to July, beach competition from August to December, and parish competitions from September to December. The Premier League play-offs take place in January or early February, while the primary schools competition is scheduled to run from September to December.
"We are going to introduce a system where clubs in the Premier League get promoted and demoted, male and female, so the championship will become an important part of our landscape," Speid informed.
"We are trying to professionalise the sport and take it out of recreation. We want good quality players to represent the country, so we have to find avenues for youngsters to come through, either through the schools or clubs, so it's best to play the sport in the parishes," he said.