Qualified for Rio! - But Jamaica's first internationally certified badminton umpire needs money for history-making trip
Jamaica's first and only Badminton World Federation (BWF) umpire, Joseph Clarke, is in need of US$5,000 (approximately $600,000) to officiate at the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Clarke said that to become Jamaica's first badminton umpire at the Olympic Games, he must officiate at the Thomas and Huber World Championship in China this year.
"I have two assignments this year. First one is the Thomas and Huber World Championships in China in May. This would be a first for a Jamaican in the final. It is a prerequisite to get to the Olympics," Clarke told The Gleaner.
"If I don't make it, it could be another 10 years for another Jamaican," he reasoned.
He has been involved in the sport for more than 35 years as a player, coach, administrator and official.
His son, Joshua, is accredited at Level One, and that means they are the first father-son umpires in the history of the sport.
Clarke said he has approached individuals and organisations for assistance, but with time running out, he is yet to get any money.
"I have to find money for airfare and visa to China and Brazil at a cost of approximately US$5,000. The organisers will provide accommodation. I have approached some people and organisations, but no confirmation as yet," Clarke explained.
"It is important to secure bookings by month end."
RAISING THE STANDARD OF THE SPORT
He has been working hard on raising the standard of the sport in Jamaica and formed the National Association of Badminton Umpires and Court Officials in November 1997, after he returned from Guatemala. Two months before, he had earned Pan Am accreditation status as an umpire, thus becoming Jamaica's first internationally certified umpire.
In 1999, he became the nation's first Pan Am-certified umpire, then three years later, he became Jamaica's first and the Caribbean's second-ever BWF-accredited umpire.
He is a founding member of Racketeers Badminton Club that hosts an annual tournament here, and is currently a JBA vice-president. He is a past president of the local body as well as past president of the regional body, CAREBACO. Also, he once served as first vice-president of the Central American and Caribbean Badminton Association.
Clarke said he would be disappointed if things did not work out for him to travel to China and ultimately the Rio Games.
"It is a big thing to officiate at the Olympics. They (organisers) want global representation, so this is Jamaica's chance. If we are to miss out, Trevor McCain is the closest to me in ranking. He is a Pan Am-certified umpire, but that is only the second of four levels needed," he noted.
"I'm trying to raise the money for both events, but nothing confirmed. However, I remain hopeful of securing the necessary funds to make both trips," Clarke stressed.