The Government is investing in the development of sports as part of the Jamaica 55 legacy projects.
Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange, tells JIS News that the celebratory period, which ends in March 2018, will be used for “significant infrastructure development.”
The Trelawny Stadium is to be redeveloped to become the centre of sports tourism and mini stadia will be created at the Goodyear Oval in St. Thomas; Drax Hall, St. Ann; Portmore, St. Catherine; and the Herb McKenley Stadium in Clarendon.
A virtual sports museum, which will trace and showcase Jamaica’s performance in sports, is expected to be completed, so too the establishment of the Caribbean Sports Medicine Centre on the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies, and the establishment of a physical sports museum at the Independence Park Complex at the National Stadium.
The legacy projects also include the commissioning of four statues in honour of outstanding Olympians. They are Usain Bolt, whose statue is to be erected by the end of September 2017; Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, by the end of December 2017; and Veronica Campbell-Brown and Asafa Powell, whose statues are to be erected in 2018.
Several schools are expected to be renamed in honour of athletes.
Minister Grange says the investment is in recognition of the country’s significant achievements in sports.
She notes that Jamaica has made its mark, bringing the country pride and glory, and major international recognition.
She says the projects are designed to encourage Jamaicans to reaffirm their pride and commitment to nation building and the achievement of a prosperous country.
Ms. Grange notes that no other county with the population of Jamaica has dominated the major international games as the island has done over the past 55 years.
In track and field, football and cricket, Jamaica stands out as a powerhouse, producing outstanding talents for the world stage and in the region.
In the post-Independence period successive Governments made the decision to focus on the development of local talent and put the supporting infrastructure in place.
Training facilities and institutions such as the St. Catherine-based G.C. Foster College of Physical Education and Sport were established to prepare athletes, and coaches and administrators for the school system and sports associations.
With State investments matched and combined with that of the private sector and school alumni, Jamaica stunned the athletics world, consistently unleashing home-coached talents, who dominated some of the most popular sports in the world.
In track and field, the achievements of Donald Quarrie, Merlene Ottey, Asafa Powell, Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Elaine Thompson, among others, have cemented Jamaica as a sprinting nation.
In cricket, the country has produced the likes of Courtney Walsh, who was a leading wicket-taker in Test cricket; Chris Gayle, a record holder in T20 cricket; and Stafanie Taylor, the only woman to lead a regional team to a world title.
The country has also recorded significant achievements in football, and has the distinction of being the first English-speaking Caribbean nation to qualify for the FIFA World Cup final, doing so in 1998.
Successes have also come from participation in netball, with the country at one point ranked at number two in the world in the sport.