Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer
Minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for sports, Natalie Neita-Headley, has expressed the desire to see sports become a unifying factor in Jamaica.
Speaking at the annual Noranda Community Football League awards ceremony at the Cardiff Hotel and Spa in Runaway Bay on Wednesday evening, Neita-Headley stated:
"My vision is for sports to become the ties that bind us all together. As a people, as Jamaicans, we are most together when we play together and when we pray together, just as we did when Jamaica qualified for the World Cup in 1998, or when our country won gold in Beijing and Berlin a few years ago. Sports have that potential to unify us around a common goal and a common dream for us to be a better Jamaica."
The minister also underscored the need for partnerships if Jamaica is to progress as a nation, saying partnerships between government and corporate entities must be strengthened so goals can be achieved.
Neita-Headley challenged Noranda to think seriously of partnering with the government "in order to promote the development of sports in many other ways".
She commended the bauxite company for its community involvement in sports and also its commitment to education, mentioning the Water Valley training centre that is run by Noranda.
Prior to the minister's presentation, Noranda president, Pansy Johnson, stated that Noranda wants to leave a legacy of a better educated area in southwest and northwest St Ann. She pledged that the company would continue its community involvement as long as interest is being shown.
Meanwhile, Retreat United Community Club walked away with the top award, the Champion of Champions trophy. After topping the competition in the Mines division, ahead of Happy News United, Retreat defeated Thicketts FC, who had won the title in the Plants division.
Thicketts won their division ahead of Meadows FC. For winning their respective divisions, Retreat and Thicketts each collected a trophy and cheque for $50,000.
Odane Tingle of Retreat won the most valuable player for the Mines competition, while Aldran Hastings of Thicketts won the award for the Plant competition.