HomeCAC Games 2023JOA advocacy reaping dividends; netball, chess earn place at CAC Games

JOA advocacy reaping dividends; netball, chess earn place at CAC Games

Buoyed by its success in landing netball and chess at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games, the local sports’ apex body, the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA), will use that accomplishment as a springboard to launch the disciplines into the more elite Pan American and Olympic Games competitions.

For the first time, there will be competition in netball and chess at the CAC Games, which got underway on Friday, June 23, and runs through to Saturday, July 8 in San Salvador, El Salvador.

Both sporting events are scheduled to get underway on Monday, June 3 and Ryan Foster, the JOA’s secretary general/CEO, pointed to their focus on ‘Sport for All’, which aims to have Jamaicans with talent competing in all sports and at the highest levels, as the force driving local potential and these forages into international competitions.

“The JOA through its ‘Sport for All’ programme has undertaken an aggressive drive to expand Jamaica’s prowess outside of the traditional sports. Our advocacy for chess and netball has resulted now for their inclusion in the CAC Games, the second oldest multisport Games after the Olympic Games,” Foster stated.

“We want to have netball at the forefront of the conversation for the 2032 Olympic Games and we believe that will happen, starting with this historic involvement in the CAC Games, along with our commitment to engage other stakeholders and extend our technical expertise to the region in a bid to grow the sport and expand competences for the countries not playing the sport now,” he added.

Exemplifying the success of the JOA’s endorsement for less popular sporting disciplines in the country, Foster pointed to the sport of judo, where Ebony Drysdale Daley won a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games, a historic feat as she not only became the first ever Jamaican to make the Commonwealth final in the event but claim a medal.

Following up on that, Ashley McKenzie celebrated a historic first-ever Jamaican silver medal at the ongoing CAC Games, in the men’s 60kg category.

“We have seen the impact that advocating and giving new sports the opportunity has done within the Jamaican landscape. Look at judo which was admitted to the JOA in 2018. It is now our first medallist at the 2023 CAC Games, and that sport also earned our historic first silver medal in the Commonwealth Games.

McKenzie was defeated 3-2, on penalties, against Ivan Salas of Venezuela in a nail-biting final.

Up to March 1, Jamaica’s ranking in netball is fourth and on that basis, Foster believes it has strengthened the JOA’s arm to push the sport.

“Netball is the highest ranking team sport for Jamaica in the world and I believe the time is now to push for the inclusion of this sport in the Pan American Games and ultimately the Olympic Games,” he said.

“The JOA, since 2018, has put a lot of funding behind netball in the financial support of their major, minor, and elite leagues, which continue to unearth new talent, as well as it’s a good source of preparation for the Netball World Cup, Commonwealth Games and now CAC Games,” Foster added.

“We have invested, since 2018, over $25 million in the sport and we now believe we should use our platform from being members of the executive of the CAC and important Commissions for Pan Am Sports to now have our voices heard in the boardroom,” shared Foster, pointing to the influence of the JOA which has multiple members on the executive body and committees of organisations governing these powerful sporting endeavours.

The bodies include Centro Caribe Sports, the CAC Games organisers, the Pan American Sports Organisation for the International Olympic Committee and some of the JOA executives tasked with responsibilities include Foster, president Christopher Samuda, Gary Peart, Jacqueline Cowan, and Nichole Case.

“We have seen the results already, and netball and chess are now officially sports being offered at the CAC Games,” said Foster. “Our work continues, ‘Sport for All’, 21 sports now at the CAC Games which is historic and our first medal won by judo. Our journey continues.”

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