Chris Samuda, president of the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA), has come out in full support of the Jamaica Squash Association as they host the Senior Caribbean Squash Championships at the Liguanea Club in Kingston.
The event serves as an avenue for the top squash players in the region to demonstrate their talent and vie for top honours. The week-long event began on Sunday, August 21 and will continue until next Sunday, August 27
Samuda challenged the guardians of the sport within the region to do more for the development of the game through a pooling of resources.
“The JOA readily (supports) our member associations in pursuing a policy, which this administration has always articulated, of establishing Jamaica as a preferred venue for regional and international competitions.”
“Congratulations therefore to the Jamaica Squash Association for embracing that vision and pursuing the mission with us. Congratulations to President Karen Anderson, Secretary Gill Binnie and the team for providing a viable platform not only for friendly competition but importantly for deepening Caribbean integration and reinforcing the Caribbean identity through sport,” Samuda added.
Samuda believes that the event needs to be viewed in a wider scope than simply a championship between Caribbean rivals.
“There is a reservoir of talent in the Caribbean and we must use championships, such as this one, to not only validate talent but to create a nursery from which talent, in a structured technical way, can be exported onto the international stage.”
“It’s the time now for us to pool our resources as regionalists and not as nationalists in creating and investing in a regional high-performance squash academy with rules of engagement for talent identification and development and with a strategic and business game plan of graduating talent from that academy to doctoral pursuits and elite achievements in the sport of squash on the international stage.”
“It’s the time right for a plural rather than a singular Caribbean perspective of development of the sport of squash in ensuring that we have our athletes consistently ranked in the first fifty in the world? It’s the moment now for regional activism to complement global advocacy in ensuring that the sport of squash gains ascendancy to the Olympic stage?” he asked.
Since becoming president of the JOA, Samuda has pushed for more sports to be brought into the limelight in addition to the traditional sports that get all the attention in Jamaica and has gone further to now articulate a plan for significant growth in the sport of squash throughout the region. The plan mirrors the one developed for cricket in the West Indies some years ago.
“Sport in Jamaica, as with the Caribbean, needs a business and strategic plan; a model that establishes an infrastructure of high-performance centres for athletes and coaches; an infrastructure of continuous competitions, such as this one, and others where international talent is imported in fertilising our own; and an infrastructure that is financed by a marriage of private and public sector capital, secured by bilateral agreements, in ensuring sustainability.”
“Squash has always been on the rise and the administration, of which I have the privilege to lead, treats all sports as equals for we define, in a measure, national progress in sport development as deepening and broadening the medal opportunities and count in international competitions in several sports and not just in one or two core and traditional sports.”
Finally, Samuda thanked the association for looking to introduce the sport into areas usually overlooked in the country.
“The youth of Jamaica and the Caribbean deserve opportunities in as many sports to self-actualise and commendation must be given to the Squash Association for introducing the sport in what some term as the non-traditional schools as well as marginalised communities where talent resides and has indeed awakened with inspiration.