Canada makes pitch for softball
Livingston Scott, Gleaner Writer
The Jamaica Amateur Softball Association (JASA) in collaboration with Canada Softball made another pitch to put the sport back into the limelight by way of an umpires' course, which saw 28 locals being trained and certified over the weekend.
The partnership, which was announced at a press briefing at The Mico University College on Friday, had Jeff Whipple (national director of Softball Canada) and Gary Skjerven - both Level Five International Softball Federation-certified umpires from Canada, conducting the course over the two days.
The seminar, which started on Friday, saw 11 young and upcoming umpires doing the Level One course, while the more experienced ones did the Level Two course, which included some Level Three material as well.
"Softball is huge around the world," said Whipple. "But we have to do better at selling the sport, although we are seeing that the sport is re-emerging in places like Jamaica, after taking a little sojourn after some great history.
"So we are excited about it and we are going to keep working to ensure that they get that exposure," he added.
He pointed out that around the world children are learning the game at an early age and insists that Jamaica must also go this route if they intend to make an impression globally.
Investing in 10-12 year olds
"If you want to compete on the international level 10 years from now, you have to put the investment in the 10-12 year olds. You can't pick up the game late in life and expect to make the World Championship," he said.
"We will do a Level One course with the beginner umpires, and for the experienced umpires we are going to do a more advanced camp. We also did a mechanic school, we practiced mechanics, safe and out calls, strike calls, talked about positioning and all kinds of different things to help them become a real basic umpire," he added. Altimont Solomon, JASA chairman, said developing umpires is key to improving the game.
"We are looking at our short and long term plans, and we are starting with our officials (training course), with two illustrious instructors from Canada," said Solomon.
"We cannot separate the areas in sports. The officiating, if it is not good, will not help the development of the sport, and if our officials are not properly trained it's almost impossible to get good results ... and we hope part two of this (course) will come soon," he said.
Solomon continued, insisting: "We have to ensure our athletes are properly prepared with our prep and primary programme. For any sport to take off it must be in the primary and prep schools for various reasons. And we are not forgetting the secondary programme.
"Last year, we had 22 school participating and we want to increase that, as when you look at other sports it (participation) is more, so we want to increase the numbers, he stated.