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Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange, says the Government is committed to the development of sports across the island.

She pointed to the sports cooperation agreement between Jamaica and China, which will see more than 400 Jamaican athletes travelling to China for training over the next three years.

Ms. Grange said this will bolster the development of women’s football in Jamaica, as well as other sporting disciplines such as badminton, swimming, synchronised swimming, volleyball and women’s basketball.

“We took 138 athletes to China earlier this year. The training was good, I went and visited the various camps and it was fantastic,” she stated.

Minister Grange also informed that coaches from China will be returning to Jamaica on December 30 to work with local athletes for a month, in order to identify another contingent to take to China for training in the summer of next year.

Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange (second row, left) , with members of the national women’s football team, the Reggae Girlz, after they were presented with a plaque symbolizing the Key to St. Ann’s Bay, during a ceremony held at Sandals Ochi, Ocho Rios, St. Ann, on December 18.

“This is something that we have benefited from tremendously, the training the athletes got (last summer) was unbelievable. I look forward to us benefiting even more from this arrangement,” she stated.

She also shared that there are now discussions taking place to expand the arrangement with China, to allow athletes to spend longer periods of time training in that country.

The Minister was speaking at a ceremony to present the national women’s football team, the Reggae Girlz, with the Key to St. Ann’s Bay, during a ceremony held at Sandals Ochi, Ocho Rios, St. Ann, on December 18.

The presentation was made by Mayor of St. Ann’s Bay and Chairman of the St. Ann Municipal Corporation, Councillor Michael Belnavis.

Members of the national women’s football team, the Reggae Girlz, with the plaque symbolising the Key to St. Ann’s Bay, during a ceremony held at Sandals Ochi, Ocho Rios, St. Ann, on December 18.

The team has already received keys from the Mayors of Montego Bay and Kingston. This was done as part of four days of activities to celebrate the team’s qualification to the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Meanwhile, Mayor Belnavis lauded the Reggae Girlz, stating that their feat proved to the world that “not only can the Reggae Boyz do it (qualify for the World Cup), but the Girlz can do it as well. You made history and you must be celebrated for that”.