The Jamaica Track and Field Coaches Association (JATAFCA) believes the absence of track and field competitions because of the Covid-19 pandemic is proving to be destructive.

In light of this claim, they have called upon the relevant authorities to immediately authorize the resumption of track and field that will allow the country to maintain its standing in global athletics.

The last track meet was held on March 20, 2021, and with the ISSA Boys and Girls Championships and the World Relays in Poland looming, Jamaica’s athletes will be at a significant disadvantage.

“The current delay is destructive. The psychological and mental damage to our athletes and coaches is almost irreparable. As a nation, we cannot afford a cancellation of ISSA Champs 2021, which the delay will cause. Not only is the competition a major pillar for our world-renowned track and field prowess, it provides the platform for student-athletes to earn athletics scholarships to overseas colleges and universities.”

JATAFCA said that the available data indicates that Jamaica’s student-athletes earn scholarships valued at over J$2 billion. This is a stark contrast to the J$85.791 million allocated in the 2019-20 Estimates of Expenditures for the Ministry of Sports for Athlete’s insurance. No other line item was identified as applicable.

“We, therefore, call upon the authorities to recognize the importance of track and field to the overall national development, the psyche and contribution to the young people of our nation. We implore them to partner with the JAAA, ISSA and their sponsors, to stage these competitions safely and successfully,” they said.

The inactivity, JATAFCA said, is due to the absence of approval by the authorities for the additional competitions organized and managed by the governing body the Jamaica Athletic Administrative Association (JAAA).

“We are made to understand that the authorities are concerned about the spike in COVID-19 cases and the stress on the public health system,” the JATAFCA said in a statement Thursday.

“Let it be clear that we too are equally concerned. We are, however, of the opinion that concern for public health is not diametrically opposed to the staging of COVID-19 safe track and field competitions. It is all about striking a balance, minimize the fallouts, and pursue the things we are best at.”

The coaches’ association said that over a three-week period from February 27 to March 20th, the JAAA staged 20 competitions that saw 39 junior athletes - 27 boys and 12 girls - making the very rigorous qualifying standards for the World Under-20 Championships in Nairobi Kenya.

In addition, there was at least one world-leading performance from a senior athlete.

“With some 1500 juniors and close to 300 senior athletes competing in the Qualification Trial Series (QTS), there was no reported positive COVID-19 case(s) among athletes, officials or athlete support personnel,” the coaches said.

“The JAAA executed well and established a blueprint that several countries across the NACAC region, including USA and Canada, have now adopted.

 “We also make the call for authorities to provide clear and immediate responses, within 24 hours, to the applications for permits now in their possession. Further delay would be tantamount to assisting our global competitors in making light of our efforts when we meet on the track or in the field later this year.

“As an association, we will continue to play our part in encouraging our members to practice all the COVID-19 protocols for mask-wearing, social distancing and hand hygiene. They know we hold them to a high standard of compliance, a similar standard that has resulted in us being ranked third in World Athletics.”

Five Jamaican referees have been selected to officiate at the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup starting July 10 in the United States.

The Jamaica Football Federation is said to be close to a resolution in the wage impasse with the Reggae Boyz.

Jamaica’s Kemba Nelson has designs on being in Tokyo for the Olympic Games this summer and based on what she has done so far at the University of Oregon she believes she has a good shot at it.

 

Reggae Boy Damion Lowe believes some of his compatriots should consider playing their professional football in the Middle East.

Jamaica Premier League (JPL) clubs Portmore United and Waterhouse have opted to withdraw from the CONCACAF Caribbean Club Championships, scheduled for Santa Domingo, Dominica Republic, next month, citing a lack of preparation due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The group stage of the Concacaf Caribbean Club Championship kicked off on January 29 in Kingston, Jamaica last year.  However, the island's top league has not been played on the island since last May as the country struggles to get COVID-19 cases under control.

According to the release issued by Professional Football Jamaica Limited (PFJL), the clubs have also been unable to train consistently in recent months, due to changes in the country’s Disaster Risk Management Act.  Despite ongoing talks with the government regarding the staging of a league that could take place in a controlled environment, the PFJL admitted it was unlikely to take place before the start of the Caribbean Club Championships. 

Chairman of the PFJL Chris Williams, expressed sympathy with the clubs but believed it could be a sign of things to come.

“...this decision by two of our clubs saddens the PFJL but we remain 100% in support of their decision given the circumstances that have occasioned their pulling out of the most important regional tournament that has realised much success for many of our clubs in years past,” Williams noted in the release.

“It is also inescapable for me not to point to the fact that this is the first of many dominoes that will befall the sport and our players locally, if we not able to restart the Jamaica Premier League before the end of the 2021 season.”

 

English Football League (EFL) club Swansea has called for social media companies to do more to combat racial abuse on their platforms after Jamaica international Jamal Lowe was abused on Instagram following defeat at Birmingham City on Friday night.

Lowe posted the now removed message to his personal page, with the caption “some serious idiots out there.”  The issue of players being abused online has again come to the fore in recent weeks with legendary Arsenal forward Thierry Henry quitting social media to highlight the issue.  

Lowe was the third Swansea player, since February, to be subjected to racist abuse on social media.

"This is the third time in space of seven weeks where one of our players has been subjected to such abhorrent messages, and we continue to call on social media companies to go above and beyond to eradicate this appalling level of behaviour from their platforms," a Swansea spokesperson said.

"Jamal has the full and unwavering support of everyone at the football club,” he added.

Lowe, 26, has scored nine goals in 41 Swansea appearances since joining the Welsh club from Wigan in August 2020.  The player also recently scored on debut for Jamaica in a 4-1 loss to the United States in Austria.

A berth at this year's summer Tokyo Olympic games is undoubtedly on the radar of Jamaica's top table tennis players, Simon Tomlinson and Kane Watson, who both continue to show impressive form at the international camp in Broward, Florida, where they are currently in training for the Olympic qualifiers later this month in Argentina.

The Jamaica-born duo of Stacey-Ann Williams and Charokee Young finished first and second for their respective universities in the women’s 400m at the Texas vs Texas A&M Dual track meet on Saturday.

Williams, the former ST Elizabeth Technical athlete, now competing for Texas, crossed the line first in a time of 51.24, comfortably ahead of Young who finished in 51.52 for Texas A&M.  Syaira Richardson, also of Texas A&M was third in 52.17.

In the women’s 100m, former Edwin Allen star Kevona Davis clocked 11.35 but had to settle for second place behind Texas teammate Kynnedy Flannel who took the top spot in 11.23.  Texas A&M’s Kaylah Robinson was third in 11.69.

At the same event, O’Brien Wasome, formerly of Jamaica College, took the top spot in the men’s triple jump.  Competing for Texas, Wasome recorded a distance of 15.83m, comfortably ahead of CJ Stevenson who was second with 15.19, and teammate Stacy Brown Jr who was third with 14.65m.

In the women’s high jump, the day belonged to Trinidad and Tobago jumper Tyra Gittens who leapt 1.90m to claim the top spot for Texas A&M.  Texas’ Marlene Guerrero was second with 1.73 and her teammate Trinity Tomlinson third with the same height.

Jamaica international, Leon Bailey, believes a strong performance at the FIFA World Cup would be the highlight of his career and expressed belief in the current squad’s ability to get to the next edition of the tournament in 2022.

The 23-year-old Bayer Leverkusen winger has been in splendid form for the Bundesliga club so far this season, scoring 12 goals and getting 8 assists in all competitions.  The player is, however, yet to really kick his international career into gear, scoring once in only eight appearances.

Bailey is expected to feature prominently for the team in the coming months, with Jamaica scheduled to take part in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, before beginning the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers in September.  With potentially four teams able to qualify for the 2022 World Cup, from the region, Jamaica are currently CONCACAF’s 6th best team according to the latest rankings.  The Caribbean team is, however, already in the final round and could have a good chance to qualify.  Several members of the Jamaican national team are, however, embroiled in a protracted dispute with the country’s football federation, which could have an impact on their campaign.

“I think we have a good team. We can really keep up. Go to the World Cup and keep up there. The most important thing is that it would give Jamaica a lot of attention,” Bailey told OneFootball.

Bailey, who hopes to be an inspiration to young players from Jamaica, does not want to simply make up numbers at the tournament, should the team qualify.

“Not just playing at a World Cup for Jamaica, but also asserting yourself at a World Cup with Jamaica. Don't just play the group stage. Keep up. Quarterfinals, semi-finals, even a final. That would be the greatest achievement of all time for me. "

England international, Declan Rice, is confident the Three Lions have plenty of firepower to choose from in light of West Ham teammates Michail Antonio’s decision to represent the Jamaica national team.

The 30-year-old striker, who has Jamaican parents, announced his decision to change nationalities a few months ago and is expected to join up with the Caribbean team at the end of the EPL season.

The powerful forward was called up by England in 2016 but has never made an appearance for the country.  Despite consternation raised in some quarters, regarding the prospect of England losing the forward, Rice believes the team has plenty of cover and tipped his teammate for success with the Reggae Boyz.

“He’s such a handful. I see it every day in training. He’s so strong. He holds the ball up well. He makes efficient runs in behind. He’s a defender's worst nightmare,” Rice told the UK Dailey Star.

“But look he’s chosen his allegiance with Jamaica now. I’m sure he’s going to have a great time there,” he added.

“We’ve got other strikers that pledged themselves to England that haven’t got in the squad lately who can easily fill the boots of Antonio, so, we’re well prepared with strikers.”

The Hammers star Antonio has seven goals and five assists so far this season, as West Ham are locked in battle for a top-four finish.

 

Jamaica Reggae Boy, Kemar Lawrence, has accused the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) of cutting the legs out from under the team’s head coach Theodore Whitmore.

Whitmore, who signed a new four-year contract with the JFF in 2018, has largely stayed on the sidelines as some members of the national squad and the JFF have wrangled over contractual negotiations for the past few months.

The coach has, however, on occasion made his frustrations know, mostly as it relates to dissatisfaction with the lack of organisation and lack of resources available for the national program.

In addressing the ongoing issue during a recent interview with YouTube channel Reggae Boyz Commentary, Lawrence highlighted a few of the issues that also impacted the coach.  The defender pointed to the fact that the team has only one physiotherapist and one equipment manager as some of the issues that have impacted the unit.  Whitmore has in addition requested a video analyst as part of his technical staff but, to date, no such post has been created.

“What Tappa has been doing with the limited number of resources that he has; you want to break that up? Tappa is getting it right and we have a short space of time and he is doing his best to make everything work and the Federation is cutting his legs from under him,” Lawrence said.

“We want them to understand where we are coming from and just be honest. They share things in TV interviews that are nowhere close to what is the truth. Tell the Jamaican people what is going on,” he added.

“The players reach a level where they are fed up. If the (JFF’s) approach is “hol this” then bring who wants to go to the Gold Cup (to play) without 2 or 3 medical staff, physio or a technical coach, because these are the things that will get us to win in the finals, not just being there.

It’s a difference between us and the USA because every time they do well they look at what they have done and they bring more to the table in terms of video sessions, anything to help.”

Whitmore led the team to the 2017 Gold Cup final, the second time it has done so in its history.

Jamaica Reggae Boy, Kemar Lawrence. has insisted the current dispute with the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) is about more than money but also respect and equality for all members of the national team.

For the past couple of months, several members of the national team and the JFF have been locked in bitter contractual negotiations ahead of what will be a crucial year for the national team, which will see it participate in the CONCACAF Gold Cup and later the World Cup qualifiers.

Initial reports revealed that the parties were far apart on negotiations with the federation balking at, among other things, the player’s initial proposal of US$7,000 per game for the World Cup qualifiers.  In response, the JFF insisted it was unable to go above US$2,000 and the parties have been unable to bridge that gap since.

In recent weeks, however, the parties reportedly moved closer to an agreement in key several areas.  However, several regular team players remained absent for the recent friendly against the United States, which the team lost 4-1, meaning some issues were yet to be resolved.  With the issue sharply diving opinion, some have accused the players of being mercenaries.  Insisting nothing could be further from the truth, however, Lawrence pointed to issues of inequality and unfairness in terms of how certain players were treated as another crucial sticking point.

“The negotiations are about more than one thing, it’s not about the money. People are getting injured flying economy across the world and when they reach, they only have two days to train and then play,” Lawrence told YouTube channel Reggae Boyz Commentary.

 “The other day when we were going to Saudi Arabia, upon boarding my flight in London, I met with four English-based players who went into business class and they put me in economy. On the way back, the same thing. I play for an elite club in the topflight in Belgium. I have more caps than all four put together and these are the things that cause segregation. Enough seats were on the flight, so what do they leave me as a senior player to think? Where is the level of respect and professionalism? At the end of the day, I have a job to do and I try to do it to the best of my ability. It has happened to me, Lowe, Blake, Flemmings, all of us, and this is not the second or third time that this has happened,” he added.

 “Put players on direct flights, business class flights. We need medical staff. How can you have one physio for 24 players? You have one equipment manager, one man, and he is over 50. The JFF doesn’t think he needs some help? Then you have 12 members of their delegation. Why can’t we get additional medical staff and a physical coach on the technical team to aid our coach?” Lawrence asked.

The 28-year-old defender has made some 60 appearances for the Jamaica national team and was a part of the units that carried Jamaica to successive CONCACAF Gold Cup finals.

English Championship strugglers Sheffield Wednesday have decided against signing Jamaica international Ravel Morrison after a brief trial period at the club.

The former Manchester United youth standout was invited to train with the club earlier this month after leaving Eredivisie minnows ADO Den Haag in January.  The Owls were weighing up the decision to give the midfielder a contract until the end of the season but decided against doing so.

The club would have needed to register the 28-year-old last week, in order to add him to the first-team squad for the rest of the season.  The team currently finds itself mired in the relegation zone, in 23rd position, with only a handful of games to save themselves.

For his part, Morrison will be looking for his 12th club in what has been a nomadic career to date.  Some of the player’s former clubs have included West Ham United, Lazio, Queens Park Rangers, and Middlesbrough.

Interestingly Wednesday is coached by another Jamaica international Darren Moore.   Moore's men entered the international break in good heart following a positive win over Barnsley.

Wednesday return to action on Friday when they travel to automatic promotion contenders Watford.

Damion Thomas and Sparkle McKnight were winners on Saturday’s final day of the 93rd Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays held at the Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin, Texas.

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