WASHINGTON — With just a few days to go before the 117th staging of the annual Penn Relays in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Team Jamaica Bickle (TJB), has been finalising preparations to host the Jamaican contingent as well as their Caribbean counterparts.
Some 500 athletes, coaches and support staff are expected from Jamaica, and 120 from Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The Penn Relays will be held from April 28 to 30.
To cater to the athletes, TJB relies heavily on contributions from Diaspora businesses and corporate donations as well as fundraisers to meet the annual budget of approximately US$$67,000 (J$5.6 million) to fund its operations.
Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Hon. Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, will lead a high-level team of officials representing the government of Jamaica. Ambassador to the United States, Her Excellency Audrey P. Marks, will be TJB’s honoured guest for the Penn Relays weekend of activities.
An avid supporter of the youth, Ambassador Marks takes a keen interest in sports. Since taking office in Washington, D.C., she has been kept informed of the work that Team Jamaica Bickle has carried out on behalf of Jamaican and Caribbean athletes in the Diaspora.
“I am particularly pleased with the work that Team Jamaica Bickle does and continues to do on behalf of the athletes, and to that extent the people of Jamaica and the Diaspora,” said Ambassador Marks.
“On behalf of the Government and people of Jamaica, I am delighted to be the honoured guest of the Team Jamaica Bickle Penn Relays weekend activities, 2011, and equally happy to embrace the youth of the nation while they represent school and country with pride. The flag of Jamaica flies proudly at Franklin Field, a first for any foreign country, and graciously so, due to the efforts of Team Jamaica Bickle,” she added.
For the past 17 years Team Jamaica Bickle has sought to make the Penn Relays experience a nurturing one, filled with great memories and special moments for the athletes. The Team Jamaica village provides for the athletes a “home-away-from-home,” partnering with Vincent HoSang and the Caribbean Food Delights brand to provide Jamaican meals and refreshments.
“We recognise the power of the athletes and we consider them ‘Brand Ambassadors’ for the country, each time they step on the field, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of TJB, Irwine Clare told JIS News.
Thousands of Diaspora residents from cities all over the United States are expected to attend the Penn Relays.
The TJB was created in 1994 as a non-profit organisation to provide needed assistance for the athletes, officials, and coaching staff while they compete at the Penn Relays. Support is delivered in the form of meals, transportation, physical therapy and amenities.
By Derrick A Scott, JISWashington@jis.gov.jm