Gov’t pledges continued support of football
Prime Minister Andrew Holness says the Government will continue its investment in sport because of the developmental and transformative effect it has on the lives of young people.
The prime minister, who was speaking at a ceremony to honour Reggae Boyz footballer and Leicester City captain, Westley 'Wes' Morgan, at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in Kingston on Sunday, noted that football has allowed many young Jamaicans to utilise their talent for positive reasons.
"It creates an avenue for the expression and the use of talent for our young people," said Holness.
For this reason, he said the Government will create the environment in which "the talent pool can fulfil and self-actualise".
The prime minister, in recognising Morgan's achievement in aiding Leicester City's victory in the 2015-16 English Premier League (EPL), said it is important to locally honour the successes of members of the diaspora.
He urged the Leicester City captain to give back to the youth locally as well as to his own community of Nottingham, England, to ensure that "other youngsters can stay on the straight and narrow".
Meanwhile, Minister of Culture, Gender Affairs, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange said the Government, through the Sport Development Foundation (SDF), will continue to provide its monthly allocations to support the national football programme, despite the Reggae Boyz's recent elimination from the 2018 World Cup qualification.
Already, Grange noted that $3.5 million has been allocated to the programme. She also affirmed Government's support for the women's football league, with an injection of approximately $9 million.
"I know you are disappointed, we all are, but this is when you need our support more than ever. I hope you know you can always count on us," said Grange.
She further assured the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) that "as a government, we will continue our support in all the ways that we can ... if the pot and the kitty gets bigger, we will consider an increase."
Grange also urged the Reggae Boyz to use the disappointment of being eliminated from the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers as motivation to improve their performance. They will tackle Haiti in their final CONCACAF Semi-final round match tonight at the National Stadium, beginning at 8:30 p.m.
"It's precisely when people write you off or write us off that we must rise," Grange encouraged. "I want to say to the Reggae Boyz that even if you think people have written you off, this is when you must rise."
Morgan said he appreciated the recognition by the Government and the JFF and hopes that his achievements "will serve as an inspiration to young people to achieve their dreams".
He was presented with the Gold Medal of the City of Kingston by Deputy Mayor, Councillor Andrew Swaby.