Stick with it, JA! - Clarke says country can be lacrosse powerhouse
Jamaica Lacrosse Association (JLA) Vice-president Dwight Clarke believes the sport holds many scholarship opportunities for young people.
He strongly believes that if Jamaican youths make lacrosse a pastime and are dedicated to it, they can be world beaters in a few years. However, he says the shortage of coaches and instructors locally has limited the sport's growth, but the association is trying to address the issue.
"With Jamaicans' running and athletic abilities, they can succeed in this sport because it is mainly a running game. I believe if we take the sport seriously, we can dominate in a few years. The bigger countries are far ahead of us now, but give it another two or three years," he said.
The Federation of International Lacrosse's development officer, Kevin Dugan spearheaded the most recent thrust to introduce the sport to Jamaica in 2013. It has slowly made its way into most high schools across the Corporate Area and is gradually increasing in popularity.
It is quite common to see groups of young people going through the streets of Kingston parading sticks with a little net at the end. However, the majority of Jamaicans are unfamiliar with this sport and how it is played. But Clarke says the JLA is aiming to change that very soon.
"The short-term goal is to get involved with ISSA and get to the 2018 World Championships. The long-term goal is to get the sport played islandwide. The growth has been steady, but we need people to be aware of it. A lot of people don't know the sport and we want it to be a sport, like football (played commonly), so we are aiming to get more interest in it," he said.
Clarke said the JLA will be looking to introduce the sport to Jamaica's rural areas throughout this year.
"We only have a school league. We haven't gone rural as yet. The league is on Saturdays only, but this year we are trying to make it a little more exciting. So we are trying to go in the schools at least one day a week so it can be more exposed to kids," he said.
The JLA invites all schools to its yearly summer camp where it also facilitates a referee and coaching clinic. However, at its yearly winter camps, coaches and volunteers are invited from overseas to teach the sport.
"We want the development officers to teach courses and impart the knowledge to guys leaving school. After passing the courses, they can develop their knowledge and be coaches," Clarke said.