- Representatives of sports associations in Jamaica benefiting from 60 days of specialised training and competition in the People’s Republic of China, have welcomed the initiative which is being facilitated under a technical cooperation agreement between the countries.
- More than 400 local athletes will travel to China for training over three years, following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in August 2017, and presentation of Letters of Exchange two months later.
- A total 138 athletes, coaches and managers from seven disciplines traveled to China in the summer of 2018 for initial engagements.
Representatives of sports associations in Jamaica benefiting from 60 days of specialised training and competition in the People’s Republic of China, have welcomed the initiative which is being facilitated under a technical cooperation agreement between the countries.
More than 400 local athletes will travel to China for training over three years, following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in August 2017, and presentation of Letters of Exchange two months later.
A total 138 athletes, coaches and managers from seven disciplines traveled to China in the summer of 2018 for initial engagements.
The disciplines represented were: badminton, synchronised swimming, women’s football, swimming, women’s basketball and volleyball, and gymnastics.
General Secretary of the Jamaica Volleyball Association, Jaqueline Cowan, said her team members learned the importance of discipline.
“To learn what we take for excuses here as to why persons cannot train, should never be used. In terms of the training, there is no [sporting] discipline in Jamaica that would have been able to train four to five hours a day, five to six days a week, for two months,” she pointed out.
“We got that opportunity. The girls were tired … but they had to push through. We had a hard task master … who, if anyone was missing, she knew. In terms of the facilities that we had to use, [they were] first class and made it easier for all of us there to adapt to the situation and train to the best of [our] ability,” the General Secretary added.
Mrs. Cowan was speaking at a recent news conference at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston, where an update of the programme was provided.
Women’s gymnastics coach, Nadine Whyte, said the members trained five days per week, while in China.
“Even on their rest day, they also went and trained and they came back two stages up. The training for them was excellent. I loved it. I hope to go back again to China in 2019,” she said.
Jamaica welcomed the first delegation of Chinese coaches under the reciprocal arrangement, in January 2018.
During that first 30-day visit, the coaches undertook an extensive assessment of Jamaica’s athletes and formulated training plans in collaboration with their local counterparts, with a view to improving the athletes’ skills set and performance.
Seven coaches, representing the seven disciplines, a team manager and an interpreter are now in Jamaica for second-year engagements.
Additionally, under the agreement, the Chinese government has donated equipment for the seven disciplines. These include a completely outfitted gym for gymnastics, which is already in Jamaica.
For her part, Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange, who led a delegation to China to observe Jamaican athletes in training and competition, said the project is bearing fruit.
“The times and techniques for the swimmers who are participating in this project have improved. The female volleyball team is now poised to qualify and outperform themselves in new championships, and the techniques have improved in our synchronised swimmers and gymnasts,” she noted.
The Minister also pointed out that members of the junior female football team are positioning themselves to join the ranks of the Reggae Girlz.
“Overall, the work ethic of the athletes in this project has improved significantly,” Ms. Grange added.
She, however, noted several issues, such as implementation challenges, to which she said projects of this magnitude are sometimes prone.
“As a country, we struggle to provide adequate sports infrastructure to allow our athletes the best opportunity to train and compete. All of our programmes are operated on a part-time basis to allow both athletes and coaches to engage in formal educational and employment pursuits,” Ms. Grange noted.
She emphasized that, against this background, “I will continue to advocate for a state-of-the-art secondary-level physical education and sport institution”.
“Such an institution will provide an opportunity for young athletes to pursue their sporting discipline full-time while providing support for their educational advancements,” the Minister added.
Ms. Grange also acknowledged the donation of equipment which arrived in Kingston in early December.
“On behalf of the Government and People of Jamaica, I want to express our sincere gratitude to the Government and [Citizens] of the People’s Republic of China for the equipment. They are securely stored and my office is working out the details with the Chinese Embassy for an official handing-over ceremony to be held before the end of the month,” the Minister said.
Meanwhile, she implored the Associations to regard themselves as privileged to be a part of the project.
“I want to remind the Associations of the goals that you set for yourselves – to qualify for and improve Jamaica’s ranking in major regional and international competitions, including the PanAm Games this year and the Olympics next year,” Ms. Grange added.