Paul Clarke, Gleaner Writer
Western Bureau:Phase three of the multi-million dollar BREDS Treasure Beach Sports Park and Academy in St Elizabeth has been completed with the opening of the General Colin Powell Challenge Course.
Named after the former US Secretary of State and five-star general, who has his roots in the Treasure Beach area of St Elizabeth (his father is Jamaican), the course will be used primarily for the motivation of youths, and to build team unity for corporate Jamaica. The Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Engineering Regiment, led by Lieutenant Colonel Martin Rickman and Captain Eldon Morgan, designed and constructed the course, which features a Low Wall, a Centipede, the TP Pole, Whale Watch, Mohawk Walk and the High Wall, which stands at 65 ft high and the Wild Woozie.
Funding for the project came from United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF). The New York-based Orhstrom Foundation provided funding for training and purchase of equipment.
The Challenge Course was the final bit of construction to complete the third phase of the master plan, which cost approximately $43 million. The fourth and final phase is scheduled to start in January 2014, and will cost a further $50 million to complete the project on the near 17-acre property.
FROM A VISION TO REALITY
"The Treasure Beach Sports Park and Academy has always had a vision of being the leading sports park in the Caribbean by 2015," said Jason Henzil, director of the BREDS Foundation.
"I believe we are on our way of realising the dream to make this place the number-one sports facility in the Caribbean."
"We have completed a number of things but still have a few others remaining, and those will come in phase four," added Henzil.
This includes the construction of the Donald Buchannan Sports Tourism Centre and the completion of a fifth football field.
The late Donald Buchanan, former Member of Parliament for South West St Elizabeth, had dreams of developing the area as a cricket ground.
"We have adopted his dream and expanded it to be what we have today," reasoned Henzil.
"We have a major English county cricket team scheduled to have their pre-season training here. We don't want to say which team as yet, because they have asked us to keep it confidential for now," Henzil said,
"It is something that will mark a major breakthrough for us here."
The Valencia Football Academy has been confirmed for another visit next year Plans are well afoot to begin an amateur boxing programme, under the auspices of the Jamaica Boxing Board.
Henzil revealed that preliminary discussions are also being undertaken with US Major League baseball team Pittsburgh Pirates, with the hope of bringing them to scout and develop the sport locally.
"They know St Elizabeth and Treasure Beach, in particular has a history with cricket, but what about the child who just misses making a cricket team. He could become an international baseball player," Henzil said.
"So what it's about is providing good facilities and excellent coaching and great mentoring to see how we can open up opportunities for youngsters."