André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
Mike Fennell, president of the Jamaica Olympic Association, says it's time to reconsider staging the Caribbean Games and believes that Jamaica could see serious development in non-traditional sports, with a partnership with Olympic Games host nation, Great Britain.
Fennell, who told the Sunday Gleaner that he will be looking to introduce Minister Without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for sports, Natalie Neita-Headley, to British Sports Minister Hugh Robertson, so that discussions can begin about a possible sporting partnership between the two nations.
He was, however, quick to point out that the respective sporting associations also have a role to play in charting a development plan for their disciplines, as the JOA boss envisions greater range in the country's Olympic participation.
"We need the help and this has to come from both ends, we have to have our local federations charting a more positive course towards high level competition," said Fennell. "The qualification process is quite tight and difficult and so unlike the very old days when everybody could compete at the Olympic Games, you have to go through a qualification process."
Jamaica has received help in the past from countries like Cuba but despite the distance, Fennell believes the United Kingdom would be a positive ally.
"Sports like boxing, table tennis and badminton that we have had representatives in previous games, we have to look at what we need to do to get back and prepare for the cream of the crop, while not neglecting the grassroots development," Fennell said.
"I think we should look at the United Kingdom because flowing from their success at the games, they would want to outreach and I think we have an opportunity here," Fennell said.
"I hope to link the British Minister of Sport with our own Minister Natalie Neita-Headley, because the British minister is someone I know quite well and I am looking to put them together to see what can flow after the games," he added.
Fennell lauded the infrastructural and technical value of the British and believes given the heritage, it would be a smooth relationship for the Jamaicans.
"They have clearly the coaching and the structure and it is a structure that we would understand because of our heritage but the only problem is that England is so far way and other places are much closer," Fennell noted.
"We also have to look at the USA - if they are willing to help people who beat them, we will get it all around but we have made the mark all around and I think people are willing to sit and talk to us," said Fennell.