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The Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport and the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) have broken ground for the construction of an artificial football turf at the Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence, on the grounds of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona.

Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange, who spoke at the ceremony today (September 25), said she is delighted to be a part of the historical occasion, done in honour of the late former President of the JFF, Captain Horace Burrell.

“I deem this development as a fit and proper tribute to the memory of our dear brother, Captain Horace Burrell, for whom this Centre of Excellence is named. One of the things that Captain was passionate about, was the state of football pitches across the country,” the Minister said.

“We have made some strides, mainly at the National Stadium since Captain Burrell began his advocacy for improved pitches, and here we are today, about to begin construction of what will become one of the best ever constructed in Jamaica, led by his Jamaica Football Federation [team] and the University of the West Indies,” Ms. Grange added.

She said the Government supports initiatives that focus on improving the nation through sports.

“We understand the value of sports in the process of national development and we are determined that sports must play a part in delivering prosperity to the Jamaican people. This is why we have developed a ‘Sport for Economic Development Strategy’ in my Ministry, and the main pillars are: sports diplomacy; direct investments into the sport and entertainment industries; hosting of major sporting events, including training, meetings and congresses in Jamaica; and support for athletes at the early stage through to the high performance level,” she noted.

Meanwhile, President of the JFF, Michael Ricketts, said construction of the artificial football turf should take 99 days, and that a company based in Costa Rica, called Stadium Source, has been contracted by International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA) to carry out the project.

Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange (second left), feels a sample of the football net that will be on the grounds of the Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence, University of the West Indies, Mona. Occasion was the ceremony to break ground for an artificial football turf for the institution on Tuesday (September 25). Others (from left) are Mayor of Kingston and St. Andrew, Senator, Councillor Delroy Williams; Contractor, Pablo Vásquez; President, Jamaica Football Federation, Michael Ricketts and Development Manager, FIFA Regional Office, Marlon Glean.

The President informed that construction would cost approximately US$600,000.

Mr. Ricketts said that sports play a very important role in the development of Jamaican youth and can save them from a life of crime.

“It is important that football, and probably by extension sport, be the catalyst that will engage social change as we build this nation of ours,” he said.