Ryon Jones, Staff Reporter
The presence of 14 persons in the island from Australia to participate in a two-week track-and-field camp could serve as the first step in establishing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Jamaica and the world's sixth-largest country.
The 10 athletes and four manage-ment personnel are being hosted by the Business of Sports in collaboration with G.C. Foster College. The group will be housed at the St Catherine-based institution, where they will be exposed to top -evel coaching from veteran coach Maurice Wilson.
"G.C. Foster College, as the base where the camp is going to take place, is an institution that trains officials and produces athletes," president of the Business of Sports, Carole Beckford, highlighted during a press briefing held yesterday at the Courtleigh Hotel.
"It is a teacher-training institution, so we thought that was the best fit, as G.C. Foster is a Government-run institution, and we figured we wanted to do it countrywide, so everybody can benefit. Out of this, we do anticipate we will have technical exchange and invitations for teams to go back and forth," Beckford said.
KEEN ON PARTNERSHIP
The head of the Australian delegation, Hayden Knowles, who heads Competitive Edge Company, is also keen on seeing a partnership forged between the two countries. Knowles reached out to Beckford following Usain Bolt's visit to Australia in 2010 when the entire country was captivated by the global track star.
"This partnership will continue, as we share the same passion and the same vision," Knowles said. "We are going to bring more athletes back here, we are going to bring coaches back, larger groups next time and we are also going to invite people from Jamaica back to our home."
While pointing out that discussion pertaining to an MOU could not be held with the group presently in the island, but would have to be engaged in at a higher level, the minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for sports, Natalie Neita-Headley, expressed interest in the two countries collaborating.
"We can't discuss it with the level of representatives that came here, as they are mainly athletes, so that's not where the discussion will take place," Neita-Headley told The Gleaner. "They (visiting group) have mentioned that it (MOU) is something that they would like to see and it is not something that we (the Government) would be averse to having.
"The trading of best practices and technical knowledge will be beneficial for both countries, as they are very strong on rugby and we would like to improve our rugby game, cricket and so on."
Wilson believes Jamaica can benefit from Australia in terms of sports science and the training of officials from a scientific standpoint.
"We do well practically, but we need to engage with the science to sustain what we have," Wilson reasoned.
As it relates to the Australian athletes that are here, Wilson intends to assess where they are in their season and ascertain what their objectives are.
"We are going to try and make their programme adaptable to what we do, so they can see some of the things that we do here differently," he said.