Paul Wright | Regular competition and excellent coaching
The year 2018 has come to an end, cementing the fact that anyone with a genetic background that can be traced to Jamaica, has the potential to be a world-class athlete. It does not matter what sport you are considering. All a human with a genetic make-up of a 'Jamaican' needs to be considered world class, is opportunity and resources.
In 2018, Alia Atkinson, 'born yah' was known as a child prodigy in swimming. Her dedication and 'stick-to-itiveness' resulted in becoming the first black female swimmer to have a world record and to win several championships, once sponsorship in the form of cash allowed her to concentrate on the things that made a swimmer great: regular competition against the best in the world, and excellent coaching. This truism has yet to sink in when corporate Jamaica and the Government (we the people) considers a budget for sports.
Our Sunshine Girls are once again ranked third in the world, backed by victories against England and New Zealand in different competitions. This improvement in ranking is due to competition against the best in the world and excellent coaching. Consider the possibilities if competition was regular.
Our female footballers, the 'Reggae Girlz', have qualified for next year's FIFA Women's World Cup with a team made up of a blend of local and foreign talent. Again, competition against the best and excellent coaching, plus (and this is a big plus) cash from the Bob Marley Foundation through Cedella Marley, and the Alacran Foundation out of London. What is needed now for our foray into the group stages of the World Cup, is regular competition against the best in the world. We already have the talent and skill as well as excellent coaching.
The Cinderella story of our female footballers can also be applied to our Rugby League and Rugby Union players. A group made up of locals and foreigners with a qualifying genetic link have qualified for competition in world events, due to competition against the best in the region and excellent coaching. What is needed? Regular competition against the best in the world. The talent, skill, and desire is there, sponsorship in the form of cash to arrange these games is what is sadly lacking.
The two sports that I have not yet mentioned are male football and track and field. Our Reggae Boyz have performed very well this year. A formula conceived by local World Cup hero and present coach Theodore 'Tappa' Whitmore, wherein local and young footballers are given a previously unheard of opportunity of representing their country in matches that matter has reaped untold rewards for some whose exposure was a godsend. What is needed in order to qualify for the next World Cup? Regular competition against the best in the world. We already have the necessary excellent coach and the talent and skill of our representatives.
HAVE A CHANCE
Corporate Jamaica and the Government (we the people) MUST come on board if we are truly to have a chance. The only drawback that I can see IF sponsorship and support is forthcoming, is the lack of a high profile 'salesman' who can command attention in the corridors of FIFA, and get us the regular competition against the best in the world that is needed. This is not a knock against our present Jamaica Football Federation hierarchy, just reality.
In track and field, the void left by the exit of (by far) the greatest sprinter of all time, Usain Bolt, seems to be on its way to being filled. Our non-traditional events, the throws, long- and middle-distant running are making excellent strides on the world scene. Our soon-to-be declared RJRGLEANER Sports Foundation Sportsman of the Year, Fedrick Dacres, has fulfilled the two constants of world dominance by a Jamaican: regular competition against the best in the world, and excellent coaching. Early, season reports of our mainstay, sprinting and hurdling, are excellent. The only drawback is the lack of understanding that our young prodigies, once identified, need to be managed as the national treasures that they are and handled appropriately. The name Kevona Davis immediately comes to mind.
So, 2018 was good. This year can be, and should be better from a sporting viewpoint. All a Jamaican needs is regular competition against the best in the world and excellent coaching. We have the athletes, we have the coaches, all that is needed is support from corporate Jamaica and the Government (we the people). Let us all commit to be a part of a support group that is geared to provide the necessary resources. It can be done, IF we all unite.
A safe and fulfilling new year to all.