NEXT year is shaping up to be another historic year for the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) with several teams having already qualified for the El Salvador Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games in June and the Santiago Pan American Games in October, 2023.
The male and female teams of rugby and the male hockey team have cemented their places in the games, and the Sunshine Girls will make a historic appearance in the CAC Games and should lift the title in the sport’s inaugural staging at the championship.
“Increasing the number of sports at which Jamaica is represented on the international stage and deepening the pool of competitive talent are non-negotiable, strategic objectives of the JOA as we engage our members in our ‘Sport for Excellence’ campaign,” JOA President Christopher Samuda said while underscoring the imperative of providing Jamaica’s youth with a menu of choices in sport.
Financial backing is a critical element of success, and the JOA continues to fund what some refer to as “minor sports” in a declared strategy of helping them to transition to the global stage. JOA’s Secretary General/CEO Ryan Foster puts the apex body’s plan in perspective: “A successful investment strategy in sport must be plural and not singular in its treatment of sport. It must be democratic and not centralised in its spend. It must be funnel- and not tunnel-visioned in capitalising talent. And it must be innovative in yielding dividends and ensuring sustainability.”
Adjani Burton, Jamaica’s senior men’s hockey team captain, endorses JOA’s approach as he looks with optimism to the games. “We appreciate funding from the JOA because it will significantly help us in our preparation for the CAC Games and beyond. We’re hoping that as the team grows and develops, more corporate companies will notice and provide a similar level of support. We are eternally grateful to the JOA as they’ve always been supporting us and [we] hope that it continues in the longer term.”
The growth locally of the Olympic sport of rugby and its representation internationally with back-to-back appearances in the Rugby World Cup and Commonwealth Games inspired Bruce Martin, technical director, to say, “The JOA recognises that this is a result of a pinnacle of many years of hard work and strict dedication for our players on the pathway to dynamic moves in Jamaica Rugby â€” and JOA equally shares our excitement.”
Equally motivated by the strategic direction of the JOA is national surfing coach Icah Wilmot, who supports the national governing association’s “sport for all” policy. “We are greatly appreciative of JOA’s support of and commitment to the growth of the para surfing team,” he said.
With the 2024 Paris Olympic Games on the horizon some may think the JOA is treating the CAC and Pan American Games as dress rehearsals. “For the JOA, each game is a golden and equal opportunity for our citizens in sport to stake their claim to excellence,” Foster said.
The JOA will, in January of next year, formally launch its ‘Highway to El Salvador and Santiago’ campaign as it continues to write and make history in sport.