Bolt for Bell/Ziadie Memorial
Kwesi Mugisa, Staff Reporter
THE world's fastest man, Usain Bolt, is yet to realise his dream of playing for his favourite club Manchester United. But he will get to display his skills on another football pitch come National Heroes Day, when the 26th annual Bell/Ziadie Memorial kicks off.
The triple world record holder, a habitual participant in the event, will lead the Digicel-sponsored Usain Bolt Invitational team, which also should feature the likes of Racers teammate Jermaine Gonzales and West Indies star batsman Chris Gayle.
Bolt's team will be just one of four lined up to entertain patrons at the yearly showpiece, held in honour of local football legends Winthorpe 'Jackie' Bell and Dennis Ziadie, who perished in a motor vehicle accident while attending a World Cup quarter-final match between Brazil and France at the 1986 Finals in Mexico City.
The three other teams that will take part in the competition are Masters, Promoters and Sponsors, and St George's Old Boys.
Telecommunications giants Digicel will play the role of title sponsors for this year's event, which will see proceeds go towards the Malvern Basic School, a project started by the event's organiser, Clive 'Busy' Campbell, earlier this year, with funds from another charity event, the Bob Marley One Love Classic.
Since the event's initial staging, it is estimated that over 100 basic schools and childrens homes have benefited from it.
Lorna Bell, widow of Jackie, was pleased with the continued effort to keep the memory of the pair alive. She stressed that the duo were great servants of the game and for youth development.
"Jackie and Dennis invested in our youth and spent quality time with them on and off the field," Bell told the gathering at yesterday's launch at Courtney Walsh's Cuddy'z Sports Bar & Grill.
"I can remember vividly that first soccer camp for youth held at Winchester Park. It was never about money for them, just a passion and a drive for the youth and for football," she added.
"Sponsors, this competition is truly deserving of your sponsorship dollar, these two gentlemen gave their all, including their very lives for football," she noted.
Digicel sports sponsorship executive, Mark Martin, underlined his company's satisfaction at being involved with the charity event yet again.
"Giving back is at the heart of what we do at Digicel, and we are happy to be a part of the Bell/Ziadie Celebrity Charity Matches for the third consecutive year," Martin said.
"Additionally, as proud sponsors of football, we note that this event is very timely in that we're celebrating the lives and extraordinary contribution of Bell and Ziadie to our national team, at a time when our very own Reggae Boyz are in good form for their journey to Rio, Brazil."
Other sponsors of the Bell/Ziade Memorial this year include Carib Cement, RJR Communications Group, The Jamaica Observer, The Gleaner, eMedia Interactive, CVM TV, Kool 97FM, Klas FM89, Hot 102 FM, J Wray and Nephew, CIBC, JPSco, National Commercial Bank, Western Sports, Locker Room, Cuddy'z, and Say it with Cakes.