Jamaica’s Olympic 100m and 200m champion, Elaine Thompson-Herah and the USA’s Ryan Crouser have been named 2021 Female and Male Athletes of the Year for the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletics Association.

Jamaica-born bodybuilder Shawn Rhoden died Saturday of a reported heart attack, according to multiple reports.

Jamaica’s senior national men’s team is set to leave for El Salvador on Monday evening, November 8, giving coach Theodore Whitmore three days to work with the players before their crucial World Cup qualifier against El Salvador on Friday, November 12.

Jamaica’s coming matches against El Salvador in San Salvador and a strengthened United States of America at the National Stadium in Kingston will be of great importance to the Reggae Boyz, who will be hoping to make up lost ground on the five teams ahead of them in the final round of qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

The players based in Europe are scheduled to arrive at the Norman Manley Airport in Kingston at 4:30 pm on Monday, where they will join the local delegation on a charter leaving at 7:00 pm. The players based in the United States (and Costa Rica) will fly directly to San Salvador on the same afternoon.

Injured players Dillon Barnes and Andre Gray will be replaced by Dwayne Miller and Javain Brown, respectively.

Jamaica will return to the island by charter on Saturday, November 13 before taking on the United States on Tuesday, November 16, at the National Stadium. A maximum of 5000 vaccinated spectators are expected to attend.

Jamaica got off to a poor start in the Octoganal round of qualifiers, losing 2-1 to Mexico and 3-0 to Panama in September. They then lost 2-0 to the United States in October and drew 0-0 with Canada and 1-1 with Costa Rica before getting their first win, a 2-0 victory over Honduras.

Jamaica has five points, the same number as El Salvador. They are also a point behind Costa Rica and three behind Panama that a currently fourth in the standings.

Mexico, the USA and Canada are the top three teams and are in the automatic qualifying positions for the World Cup.

 

The Jamaica Olympic Association will be offering international courses in coaching development, adaptive sports and sports governance starting in January 2022. The courses will be done in conjunction with the United States Sports Academy.

Former Jamaica and West Indies spinner, Nikita Miller is to open his cricket academy later this month.

Following her exploits at the Tokyo Olympic Games in August, Jamaica’s 4x400m bronze medallist Candice McLeod has signed a deal with Sunshine Snacks.

Under the sponsorship agreement, Sunshine Snacks will support McLeod with funds to offset her training expenses along with a healthy supply of Sun Mix fruits and nuts as she prepares for the World Championships in Oregon next summer.

The 24-year-old McLeod, a recent graduate of the University of the West Indies, ran a personal best of 49.51s to make the final of the Women’s 400m. She finished fifth.  She was also a member of the mile-relay quartet that won the bronze medal.

McLeod expressed her gratitude to Sunshine Snacks for the support.

“This motivates me a lot as I  gear up for my 2022 season,” she said.

“It is an honour to have Sunshine Snacks on board as I have always enjoyed Sun Mix and even took some along with me to Tokyo. For the upcoming season, look out for a ray of sunshine every time I’m on the track!”

McLeod was also presented with a commemorative plaque in recognition of her exploits in Tokyo and she will enjoy a spa day at Excellence Oyster Bay courtesy of Sunshine Snacks.

“We’re extremely proud of our athletes’ achievements in Tokyo, and we wanted to pledge our support in a meaningful way,” said Shantell Hill-Afonso, Brand Manager for Sunshine Snacks.

“Candice was the perfect choice as we’ve seen videos of her consuming Sun Mix. We are happy to help on her journey as she prepares for Oregon. Apart from our financial pledge, she will also have our delicious Sun Mix snacks in her gym bag.”

When Joel Ricketts places his foot on his board in Cali, Colombia at the Junior Pan American Games later this year, he will have created history as the first Jamaican to compete in skateboarding in international competition but it will be only his first steps to representing the black, green and gold at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

Since its entry into the Olympic Games in London in 1948, Jamaica has been represented at the Games in athletics, cycling, swimming, diving, gymnastics, judo, taekwondo and boxing. If Jamaica gets there, skateboarding would be the latest addition to the growing list of skills that the land of wood and water have paraded on the largest of sports’ global stages.

The gravity of such an accomplishment is not lost on the 16-year-old Ricketts.

"I'm glad that I could be given this opportunity to represent my country doing what I love. I would also like to thank the JOA and the SJL for giving me the said opportunity," he said.

Joel is an honour-roll student at Wolmer’s Boys School. The first of two children for project manager Joel Ricketts and his wife Loretta, a school teacher, Joel ran track, played football and basketball growing up but it was skateboarding that lit the cauldron of passion within him.

“Standing out vividly in my mind was the day I got a skateboard,” he said. “It was the most joyous day of my life. My passion for this particular sport led to my connection with Jamaica Skateboarding Federation and the Olympic body, Skateboarding Jamaica Ltd.

“This yearning of passion and exposure through the association has helped me to be a better team player and a more confident and disciplined individual. I am motivated and driven to excel in this sport and in other areas of my life. With the new-found self-determination and discipline gained as a result of skateboarding, this has allowed me to improve and own the skill and enjoyment of skateboarding.”

His declaration sounds like music to the ears of the Skateboarding Jamaica Limited (SJL) President Ryan Foster, who is also the Secretary-General and CEO of the Jamaica Olympic Association.

“The Junior Pan Am Games in Colombia will be historic for Skateboarding Jamaica Ltd as it will represent the first time that Jamaica will be represented in skateboarding in an international tournament,” Foster said.

“As the president, I am extremely elated that our athlete will be allowed to showcase his talent and this will be used as a stepping stone to many great things to come. Tournaments such as these are seen by the Skateboarding Jamaica Board as the beginning to the pathway to qualification to the 2024 Olympic Games.”

Joel is currently in California for a training camp courtesy of the JOA and SJL to get much-needed practice with some of the best young skateboarders in the world that Foster believes will help lay the foundation for a successful campaign towards Paris in 2024.

 “We have a core of skateboarders currently, which will form part of our Olympic squad and the board of SJL will be working with our strategic stakeholders to ensure that Jamaica will have representation in 2024 Olympics," the president said.

Meanwhile, Joel revealed that he is learning a lot in California.

“I am learning a lot, really, but what I am really working on is breaking the lines together and getting over the fear factor of skateboarding, which is falling but the basics are down so what we are working on is putting the basics together and formatting them into my trick system,” he said.

Creating history for Jamaica in the sport, he said, is both terrifying and satisfying.

“It’s a bit nerve-racking but I am also excited. I got this opportunity to do what I love, there is nothing better than that so I am just going to do the best I can,” he said.”

“To make the Olympics in skateboarding would be amazing. It is one of my goals.”

To get there, Joel has to successfully navigate a pathway filled with challenges that come in the form of qualifying tournaments across the globe. The equation is simple; do well and Paris awaits.

“You have the Street League, which is a skateboarding contest, which has aligned with World Skate and they organize contests in different parts of the world – France, Japan, Brazil and Italy sometimes. That’s where most of the points are earned and then there are other meets like the OISTU Open in Brazil,” Joel said.

His focus after the Junior Pan Am Games is getting better.

“More contests, more practice, getting better and getting over that fear and it would mean a lot to me,” he said.

“I go by the rule, ‘If it has been done it is achievable and there is always room for growth. The best is yet to come.”

The journey has begun.

Jamaica international Andre Gray has called for English League clubs to show more respect to teams from Africa and the Caribbean, as it relates to players taking part in international competitions.

According to the forward, currently on-loan at Queens Park Rangers from Watford, players that are called up for countries from the CONCACAF and Confederation of African Football (CAF) often faced increased pressure as clubs regard the decision in a negative light.

By contrast, players being called up for the England team is viewed as a positive and attracts much less scrutiny.  In truth clubs and countries have often found themselves locked in conflict regarding the use of top international players during international windows. 

Most recently things came to a head when English League clubs attempted to block, and in some instances prevented players from travelling to Africa, South America, and the Caribbean due to travel restrictions and quarantine measures that were put in place.  In retaliation, the countries affected threatened to use their power under FIFA regulations to ban players for one league match.  

“If England call there is going to be no arguments.  The minute you get called up for Nigeria or Jamaica it’s an inconvenience and a risk to the club,” Gray said in an interview with The Athletic.

“It’s just a stereotype around it.  It is the same with AFCON (Africa Cup of Nations), which is scheduled to start in January.  That has more respect around it now because of people like Mo Salah,” he added.

 

 

Reggae Boyz captain Andre Blake has been nominated by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS) for their Best Goalkeeper Award, the winner of which will be announced later this month.

Blake, 30, who has had 13 clean sheets for the Philadelphia Union in Major League Soccer so far this season and has kept admirably for Jamaica in the ongoing CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers, is vying for the award alongside the likes of Liverpool’s Brazilian stopper Alisson Becker, Germany’s Manuel Neuer and England’s Jordan Pickford.

Blake is a two-time MLS Golden Glove winner, the last coming in 2020 when he won the award during the MLS is Back season. He also won the Golden Glove Award at the 2017 Gold Cup tournament when Jamaica advanced to the finals for the first time.

Jamaica Reggae Girlz head coach, Hubert Busby, has been suspended indefinitely by the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) while it conducts an inquiry into previous allegations of sexual misconduct.

The 52-year-old, who has been head of the country’s national team since 2020, has faced resurfaced allegations that he attempted to force himself on a player in 2010, during his time as coach of the Vancouver Whitecaps women’s team.

Busby has denied the allegations in a previous report, but the Whitecaps did part ways with the coach sometime after the accusations surfaced.  The team, however, made no mention of allegations of sexual misconduct being the reason he was fired.

Major League Soccer announced that it would conduct investigations into how that situation was handled.  The JFF for its part has asked its parent body FIFA to conduct a full investigation into the incident, which will determine the next steps to be taken. 

“We will await the evidence of the FIFA investigation.  We do not want to make permanent decisions until we have the facts.  At the same time, we have to ensure that our women and girls are protected by those who lead them,” JFF president Michael Ricketts said via a press release.

Busby coached the team in two practice matches against Costa Rica and was expected to lead a camp later this month.

The England-based quartet of Michail Antonio, Leon Bailey, Ravel Morrison, and Liam Moore have been recalled to the Jamaica Reggae Boyz squad for the team’s upcoming round of World Cup qualifiers.

Antonio, the in-form West Ham striker, was controversially not available for the previous round after miscommunication between the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) and the player’s agent and club. 

The issue stemmed from the forward not being allowed to carry his personal physio to the matches.  With the issue now resolved, however, Antonio is expected to return to the line-up for the first time since facing Panama in September. 

Aston Villa’s Bailey, who has recently recovered from injury, could be in line to appear for the first time in the final round.  Reading’s Moore, who pulled out of the previous round of games with an injury concern, has also been recalled.  Derby’s Morrison will also return to the squad for the first time since appearing in the 3-0 loss to Panama.  Major League Soccer Philadelphia Union’s Cory Burke has also been recalled to the squad after missing the previous round with an ankle injury.

The Jamaicans will face El Salvador on November 12 and the United States on November 16.  

 Full Squad: Andre Blake, Dillon Barnes, Jeadine White, Liam Moore, Adrian Mariappa, Damion Lowe, Kemar Lawrence, Oniel Fisher, Gregory Leigh, Alvas Powell, Anthony Grant, Ravel Morrison, Devon Williams, Je-Vaughn Watson, Lamar Walker, Bobby Reid, Junior Flemmings, Cory Burke, Javon East, Shamar Nicholson, Andre Gray, Michail Antonio, Kemar Roofe, Leon Bailey.

History will be made at 2023 Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games scheduled to take place in San Salvador where the sport of netball will be contested for the very first time, thanks to the advocacy of the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA).

"Netball got, deservedly, our approval to take a seat at the regional table and with this accomplishment, the journey now begins to globalize the sport and the JOA stands ready to again play a signal role," said JOA President Christopher Samuda.

Samuda is a member of the Executive Board of Centro Caribe Sports which owns the games.

An established sport in English-speaking regional territories and now a staple on the sporting agenda of several Spanish-speaking countries, Secretary-General and CEO of the Jamaica Olympic Association, Ryan Foster, was never in doubt that the sport would transition.

 "I have the privilege of sitting on the Technical Commission of Centro Caribe Sports and from the get-go, I inked my finger and campaigned for netball for I was confident that the sport's credentials would result in a landslide victory," he said.

As the number of Olympic sports on the agenda for multi-sport games increases, the need for a non-Olympic sport to ensure that it is "first to market" becomes increasingly critical for entry to such events as the CAC Games.

 "Insofar as netball is concerned, we at the JOA understood that in order to become a resident of the household of multi-sport games of the Olympic movement, the sport had to muscle its way to first in the line and present, persuasively, credentials for occupancy,” Samuda explained.

Jamaica’s netball pedigree is well known and in the run-up to the 2023 San Salvador CAC Games, the JOA and Netball Jamaica in partnership with Centro Caribe Sports, will be hosting educational workshops and training sessions for teams from Spanish-speaking countries with a view to enhancing their skill sets and technical competencies in the sport.

"What is the value of knowledge and expertise if they're not shared in creating greater capital and opportunities for others in the sporting fraternity?" JOA Secretary-General and CEO Foster queried.

With the withdrawal of Panama City as host of the games, the Executive Board of Centro Caribe Sports moved quickly to re-start the bidding process to secure an alternative host and recently formalized the contract with the Government of the Republic of El Salvador, the municipality of San Salvador and the Local Organizing Committee.

Decorated Jamaica track star Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce has brushed aside suggestions of retirement, insisting that she is feeling strong and at the peak of her career.

Although the sprinter turned 34-years-old this year, an age that in past decades would ordinarily see most sprinters, well outside prime years, looking to hang up their spikes, Fraser-Pryce’s performances last season proved she did not fall into that category.

In June, Fraser-Pryce ran the then fastest time of her career over 100m, clocking what was then the second-fastest time ever run over the distance at 10.63.  The sprinter had to settle for second spot at the Olympics behind the irrepressible Elaine Thompson-Herah but even so, there was little doubt that the duo was in a different class.

A month later, however, Fraser-Pryce bettered the time she set earlier in the year after clocking 10.60, the third-fastest time ever run over the distance, behind Thompson-Herah’s 10.54 and Florence Griffith-Joyner’s longstanding world record of 10.49.  Now, age aside, the diminutive Jamaican is hoping to push those boundaries even further.

“I’m at the peak of my career. It’s so mind-blowing that I think I owe it to myself, I owe it to the next generation of women that will come after me and those that are still here, to push this to another level,” Fraser-Pryce told Sky Sports News.

“I said to my husband and my coach, it’s so strange because I’ve heard of people when they are about to retire they say they’re feeling so much pain. And while you understand their journey, I’m looking at it like, I still feel good! And if I feel good, why not go for it,” she added.

Fraser-Pryce is one of the sport’s most decorated athletes having won a total of 11 World Championships and 8 Olympic medals.

Around 5000 fully vaccinated fans will be allowed to attend the Jamaica Reggae Boyz upcoming World Cup qualifier against the United States after the country’s government reversed its previous position.

Earlier this week, it was announced that a request by the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) to allow fully vaccinated fans into the country’s National Stadium for the first time since the start of the qualifiers had been denied.

The team’s previous home matches against Panama and Canada were played in front of an empty stadium due to the country’s existing Covid-19 protocols.  The JFF attempted to rectify the situation by implementing plans and protocols that would allow some fully vaccinated patrons to enter the match.  Initially, the proposal was rejected by the government who cited concerns regarding the ability of the entities to ensure proof of vaccination for patrons.  Following an emergency meeting, at the JFF headquarters on Thursday, however, the parties have now reached an understanding to allow the stadium to be occupied at around 14 percent capacity, consisting of fully vaccinated fans, for the encounter.

With only 12.4 percent of the country’s population fully vaccinated, however, the number of patrons who will be able to take advantage of the opportunity remains to be seen.  The vaccination rate is one of the lowest in the region and lowest among the countries participating in the final round.

Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz will face another empty stadium for the upcoming World Cup qualifier against the United States, after a request for permission to have fully vaccinated fans attend the game was denied by the government.

The Jamaicans are scheduled to face the United States in a crucial encounter on November 16, as the team looks to push itself back into contention for a spot at next year’s World Cup. 

So far, the team is the only country not to allow fans into the stadium, in some capacity.  However, with an estimate of just 12.4 percent of the population being fully vaccinated Jamaica also has the lowest rate of any nation in the final round and is the only one below 20 percent.

According to a recent press release the denial was based on concerns regarding the capacity and logistics required to ensure that only vaccinated persons were allowed inside the stadium.  The decision caught Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) boss Michael Ricketts off guard as, according to him, the football body had harboured optimism of having fans return in some capacity for the upcoming round, following positive talks with government entities.

“We had discussions with persons from the Ministry of Health and we would have put our ID unit in motion.  In fact, one suggestion was that we would merge both ID entities so that once you apply for a ticket the JFF could say to you we can or cannot verify your vaccination,” Ricketts told TVJ.

“We put everything in place, all the plans.  We made several site visits.  We were working closely with IPL on how to have the patrons seated.  We had a meeting and went through all the protocols and that gave us the confidence that we would have been permitted to have fans.”

The government has indicated, however, that the proposal is under review and the request could be granted in time for the January round of matches. The team is currently in 6th place on 5 points, three outside of an automatic qualifying spot.

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