Confident rugby players leave for Pan Am qualifiers
Jamaica's men's and women's rugby teams were fully convinced of achieving Pan American and Olympic Games qualification before their departure yesterday for the Pan American Games qualifiers in Barbados this weekend.
Local members of both teams took pride of place and utilised the opportunity to showcase their optimism, during a send-off at the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA), the island's parent body for sports.
"I'm confident that we'll be able to qualify for next year's Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru and Hong Kong Sevens. We've put in all the work and we are going down there not only to compete, but to perform to the best of our ability," said Sasha-Gay Green, captain of the national women's team, the Lady Crocs.
"Our main rivals will be the Trinidadians and the Mexicans and we're confident we can beat them," added Green. "We've beaten Trinidad before and Mexico, right now they're the main ones and we're going to snap them."
Oshane Edie, captain of the men's team, said he was confident but expressed a bit of caution.
"We're the defending champions, but we're not banking on that. We've made our preparations and analysed the teams that we're going up against."
Looking at the competition, Edie added: "Bermuda are coming strong and we're looking at them because they've made some additions to their team as well. We encountered Trinidad and Guyana in Colombia and we understand what they're going to bring to the table. We've trained for that, we're going out there on our toes and we're expecting to play our game."
In Colombia, both finished as top Caribbean teams at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games, with the Reggae Crocs securing the bronze medal.
The Jamaicans will launch their quest on Saturday in group play, which funnels the top teams into bigger play-off spots and ultimately Sunday's finals. The top two will advance to the Pan American Games to be held in Lima, Peru, which also presents opportunity for Olympic competition.
"This will be a test, every new beginning is a test of your mettle, gumption, focus, team spirit," JOA president Christopher Samuda noted of the challenge in Barbados, which the JOA assisted with sponsorship valued at $1 million.