Special Olympics Jamaica Orlando Games and Unified Cup teams to receive plaques from Digicel Foundation

By Sports Desk October 14, 2022

Special Olympics Jamaica (SOJ) team members and staff will be presented with recognition plaques for their exceptional performances at the recent 2022 USA Games and Unified Cup in the United States.

The ceremony will take place on Friday, October 14 at 11:00 am at the SOJ’s Multipurpose Court at Independence Park in Kingston.

Jamaica’s team returned with 12 medals from the games held in Orlando, Florida from June 5 – 12.

Meanwhile, the SOJ football team went on to win the Unified Cup after beating Paraguay 2-0 in the division-one final at Keyworth Stadium in Michigan on Saturday, August 6.

The unified sports programme at the Special Olympics combines people with and without intellectual disabilities in training and competition. Special Olympics provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults.

The presentation of the plaques to the teams solidifies Digicel Foundation’s continuous support of SOJ. Since its inception, Digicel Foundation has provided donations in cash and kind, infrastructural support, help with fundraising activities and more to the Special Needs community.

The handover of the plaques will take place on October 14 at 11:00 am at the SOJ’s Multipurpose Court at Independence Park in Kingston.

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  • Do Jamaica's Reggae Boyz have a shot at Copa America glory? Do Jamaica's Reggae Boyz have a shot at Copa America glory?

    Jamaica warmed up for the 48th edition of the Copa America with back-to-back tame displays in their World Cup qualifiers. A slender 1-0 home win over Dominican Republic was followed up with an insipid 3-2 triumph in Dominica.

    It is back to the drawing board for Jamaica head coach Heimir Hallgrimsson, who will be chasing regional bragging rights when the leading 16 nations from the Caribbean as well as North and South America tackle the marquee tournament.

    Although his ultimate goal would be for the Reggae Boyz to lift the crown in Florida on 14 July, Jamaica need to navigate themselves out of the group phases before trying to net the top prize.

    The 2024 Copa America, hosted in the US from 20 June to 14 July, will feature 10 CONMEBOL members from South America and six invited countries from the North America and Caribbean CONCACAF region.

    All eyes will be on Argentina, the defending champions and FIFA World Cup winners, to make it a hat-trick of trophies.

    GROUP A | Argentina, Chile, Peru, Chile
    Argentina hardly ever concede goals, kick-off their campaign with a star-stunned squad that includes Angel Di Maria, the legendary Lionel Messi and Gonzalo Montiel, whose spot-kick secured the World Cup final win over France.

    Argentina beat both Chile (2-1) and Peru (2-0) in 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. Yet Peru, who failed to get a shot on target in their November tie with Messi and his mates, had held Argentina to three draws on the spin before their last encounter.

    Chile, the Copa America 2016 champions Chile, have been off colour recently under veteran manager Jorge Fossati, and rely on veterans — like Alexis Sanchez and Eduardo Vargas — to add sparks.

    Canada should be better than their results suggest under recently appointed head coach Jesse Marsh, who won two caps for the US. He has a plethora of talents — like Alphonso Davies, Tajon Buchanan and Jonathan David — keen to start matches on Canada’s Copa America
    Prediction: 1st Argentina, 2nd Canada, 3rd Chile, 4th Peru

    GROUP B | Mexico, Ecuador, Venezuela, Jamaica

    Mexico went two-and-a-half matches without scoring at the 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar. They brought in Jaime “Jimmy” Lozano as interim head coach for the 2023 CONCACAF Gold Cup, and after winning the top prize he was appointed on a permanent basis. Yet he is surprisingly shelving veterans for the Copa America, instead giving emerging talents an opportunity to showcase their silky skills.

    This appears to be a hit and miss group with Ecuador, Jamaica and Venezuela all capable of beating understrength Mexico. However, the Mexicans will benefit from vociferous support in the stadiums.

    Ecuador and Venezuela ended in a bore scoreless draw last October. Defensively-minded Ecuador have stars Moises Caicedo, Piero Hincapie and Willian Pacho. Venezuela have hit a purple patch by purring through their World Cup qualifiers.

    Jamaica still have failed to produce eye-catching displays under former Iceland head coach Heimir Hallgrimsson, despite their array of English Premier League stars. The Boyz just grind out results, although tend to make good progress in tournaments mainly thanks to reliable shotstopper Andre Blake.

    Prediction: 1st Mexico, 2nd Jamaica, 3rd Venezuela, 4th Ecuador

    GROUP C | Uruguay, USA, Bolivia, Panama

    Uruguay are a real force to be reckoned with, with stunning victories over Argentina and Brazil last year under head coach Marcelo Bielsa. Uruguay are a terrific blend of future stars and seasoned aces with names like Darwin Nunez, Luis Suarez, Manuel Ugarte and Fede Valverde enough to scare opponents.

    The US will be under pressure with high expectations from their fans on home soil. Despite being FIFA’s highest-ranked CONCACAF side, there are flaws with defensive uncertainty and an inability to find the back of the net despite having an array of striking power from the likes of Folarin Balogun, Weston McKennie, Ricardo Pepi, Christian Pulisic and Haji Wright.

    Panama, narrowly beaten by Mexico in the Gold Cup final, will kick themselves if they fail to reach the quarter-finals. They are brimming with confidence having hit a rich vein of form.

    Bolivia are the weakest South American side, with a dreadful World Cup qualifying campaign. They are unlikely to end their 11-match run of failing to win a Copa America group stage match.

    Prediction: 1st Uruguay, 2nd Panama, 3rd USA, 4th Bolivia
    GROUP D | Brazil, Colombia, Paraguay, Costa Rica

    Colombia have become a fantastic side since hiring head coach Nestor Lorenzo last year. They arrive at the Copa Amercia as the only South American nation unbeaten in World Cup qualifiers, including a 2-1 win over Brazil last year. Striker Luis Diaz can be lethal, and will be keen to better his tally of four goals at 2021 Copa America.

    Five-time World Cup winners Brazil, having tasted three World Cup qualification defeats on the bounce for their worst run since 2001 are arguably no longer the force they once were. After their 1-0 reversal to Argentina last November, their first-ever home World Cup qualifying loss, Dorival Junior was brought in as head coach. Under Junior’s tutelage they beat England and drew with Spain. Hot-shots Vinicius Junior and 17-year-old wonderkid Endrick are aiming to transform Brazil’s fortunes.

    Paraguay will be aiming to shoot down Brazil, but need a solid goalscorer. They are pretty solid defensively, and could be sensational if midfield maestro Miguel Almiron and striker Julio Enciso can replicate their silky skills seen in the English Premier League. Costa Rica face an uphill task to navigate their way to the knockout stages, and there will be big boots to fill between the sticks with iconic keeper Keylor Navas recently announcing his international retirement.

    Prediction: 1st Colombia, 2nd Brazil, 3rd Paraguay, 4th Costa Rica

     

  • Leon Bailey snubs Jamaica after being named in Reggae Boyz Copa America squad Leon Bailey snubs Jamaica after being named in Reggae Boyz Copa America squad

    In an unfortunate developing situation, Jamaica and Aston Villa winger Leon Bailey has withdrawn from the Reggae Boyz 26-man squad named for the upcoming Copa America tournament. His inclusion and subsequent withdrawal comes amid controversy and conflicting statements from Bailey and his representatives.

    Bailey, who was suspended for breaking curfew during the November international break, has not featured in Jamaica's recent matches, including the 2026 World Cup qualifiers against the Dominican Republic and Dominica earlier this month. Following the release of the squad by the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) Wednesday, Bailey took to Instagram on Wednesday night to label the selection as "misleading information."

    The winger’s father, Craig Butler, reiterated Bailey’s stance on social media, stating that his son's decision to step back from international duty remains unchanged. "We kindly ask that you respect his wishes at this time," Butler wrote. "Posts made on social media that are surfacing at this time is a misrepresentation of his position. We wish the Reggae Boyz well in the Copa America competition and he, along with his management team, will continue to support the Jamaica National Team at all levels … change must come…Respect and One Love for all."

    The JFF has not commented on whether they received a commitment from Bailey to participate in the tournament.

    Bailey, 26, recently expressed his deep love for his country and his frustrations with the national team environment. In a recent interview with The Cut, he said, "Honestly I don’t know when I will be back in the national team colours. I love my country to the core. I am always here in Jamaica. I can’t tell when I will be back in the national team colours. Once I feel like I have seen a little bit of change … I don’t know how to explain it but why I’m taking a break is because it is too much for my head sometimes."

    He continued, "A lot of people don’t understand or look deeply into why I am representing. I really love my country. I love my country so much that I am willing to get injured, willing to risk not going back to a starting Aston Villa team. I make so many sacrifices to make the national team. People don’t understand that and that’s what hurts me. It’s too much for my head sometimes."

    The Reggae Boyz squad for the Copa America is as follows:

    Goalkeepers: Shaquan Davis, Andre Blake, Coniah Boyce-Clarke, Jahmali Waite

    Defenders: Dexter Lembikisa, Di'Shorn Bernard, Greg Leigh, Damion Lowe, Michael Hector, Richard King, Wesley Harding, Ethan Pinnock, Jon Bell, Amari'i Bell

    Midfielders: Kasey Palmer, Kevon Lambert, Bobby Reid, Alex Marshall, Joel Latibeaudiere, Karoy Anderson

    Forwards: Shamar Nicholson, Renaldo Cephas, Michail Antonio, Demarai Gray, Kaheim Dixon, Leon Bailey*

     

    With Bailey's participation in doubt, the Reggae Boyz will have to navigate the Copa America without one of their key players, unless further developments arise. The situation remains fluid, and fans are eagerly awaiting clarity on Bailey’s final decision regarding his national team duties.

  • Reggae Boyz assistant coach criticizes wastefulness in World Cup qualifier victory over Dominica Reggae Boyz assistant coach criticizes wastefulness in World Cup qualifier victory over Dominica

    Jamaica's assistant coach, John Wall, voiced strong criticism following the Reggae Boyz's 3-2 win over Dominica in their CONCACAF World Cup qualifier on Sunday. Despite securing three points, Wall expressed disappointment with Jamaica's performance and the substandard condition of the pitch at Windsor Park.

    "The result was better than the performance," Wall stated bluntly. "We should have killed this game a lot earlier based on the chances that we had. The conversion rate was low. The best of it was the result—we got away with three points."

    The state of the pitch was another sore point for Wall, who didn't mince words about its impact on the game. "It was more based on the pitch," he said regarding the slow tempo of Jamaica’s play. "There was a lot more to ask for. It was a 120m in depth and 72/75m wide; that’s a cricket pitch. For me, it’s not up to standard."

    Reflecting on the match, Wall acknowledged Dominica's commendable performance and their effective counter-attacks. "Overall, Dominica performed well, and counter-attacked with the two, three players that they had up front. But overall we should have contained the game much better and just finished it off with the chances that we had," he added.

    Jamaica entered the match on a high note following their 1-0 victory against the Dominican Republic in Kingston on June 6. However, despite creating numerous scoring opportunities, the Reggae Boyz struggled to find the net until the 31st minute when Shamar Nicholson broke the deadlock.

    Kaheim Dixon doubled Jamaica’s lead just before halftime, scoring from close range to send the team into the break with a 2-0 advantage. The second half mirrored the first, with Jamaica continuing to squander opportunities. Dixon missed a glaring chance by hitting the upright from inside the box, while Nicholson also failed to convert several chances, often thwarted by goalkeeper Glenson Prince.

    With 10 minutes remaining, Nicholson finally added a third goal from the penalty spot after a Dominica defender handled the ball inside the box. This goal proved crucial as Dominica mounted a late comeback.

    Javid George capitalized on a counter-attack, beating an advancing Jahmali Waite and scoring into an empty net. Moments later, Troy Jules fired in a stunning free kick from just outside the 18-yard box, making it 3-2.

    Nicholson had a chance to secure the win but lobbed the ball over the advancing Prince and the crossbar, leaving Jamaica to hold on for a nervy finish.

     

     

     

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