WASHINGTON — Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, the Hon Olivia Grange, says that, starting this year, her ministry will choose six schools, annually, for funding to improve their sport facilities.
Miss Grange said that the project will form part of the Jamaica 50th Independence anniversary celebrations in 2012, in which her ministry will be playing a leading role.
“We measure up with any athlete in the world, and yet there are others with better infrastructure than we have, and so I want to commend our athletes who have done so well with the limited resources at their disposal,” Miss Grange said.
The Government has already committed $50 million in the Ministry’s 2011/12 Budget to establish a secretariat on a legacy project to spur Jamaicans into the kinds of actions that will create sustainable prosperity in areas such as culture, sports and tourism product enhancement.
“While we might not have the best infrastructure, we have the best coaches in the world and they should be commended,” Miss Grange told Jamaican athletes and a large number of fans attending the Team Jamaica Bickle awards ceremony, at the “Jamaica Village” tent after the Penn Relays on Saturday (April 30).
She said that the Penn Relays, held annually in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the United States, would be incorporated into next year’s celebrations, as will the Olympic Games in London. She said that discussions between her ministry and Penn Relays organizers have started, to determine the kind of activities that would best reflect Jamaica at Relays.
“Our athletes, who have participated at the Penn Relays for close to 50 years, have performed with distinction and brought much recognition to our country. This would be a grand opportunity to recognize them,” she said.
She added that, as Minister of Sports, she will be having meetings with the principals and coaches of all Jamaican schools to see how best the ministry can assist in preparing the athletes for the Penn Relays.
“I want to see, next year, that we celebrate our victories by sweeping all the sprint events and celebrating our victory like the Penn Relays have never seen,” she said.
The Girls’ Champion team was awarded to Edwin Allen Comprehensive High School from Clarendon, while the Boys Champion team award went to Wolmer’s Boys School from Kingston. The individual Boy and Girl Awards went to Travis Smikle of Calabar High and Ristania Tracey of Edwin Allen.
The Ambassador Audrey P. Marks Award for Coach of the Year went to Maurice Wilson of Holmwood Technical High School, while the Diaspora Athlete Award went to Kharl Bowen of New Jersey.
At the Penn Relays, two Jamaicans received special recognition. Jamaica’s Consul General to New York, Genevieve Brown Metzger, was named this years’ Penn Relays Honorary Carnival Referee, and Maurice Wilson was named Honorary High School Referee.
Founder and CEO of Caribbean Food Delight, Vincent HoSang, presented a cheque for US$10,000 to the co-chair of the Jamaica Team Bickle, Philadelphia chapter, Carlene Bowen. The funds will be used to support activities for the athletes at next year’s Penn Relays.
By Derrick Scott, firstname.lastname@example.org