Diaspora making Jamaica proud at Penn Relays

Saturday, April 28, 2012    

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The support being given by the diaspora to Jamaican athletes at the 118th Penn Relays Carnival in Philadelphia, USA, is nothing short of remarkable.

In fact, we would go even further to describe it as highly patriotic, as what these Jamaicans living in the USA are doing for the team elicits feelings of national pride.

The Irwine Claire-led Team Jamaica Bickle must feel a sense of accomplishment, as it is through their advocacy that many in the diaspora combine their resources each year to take care of our athletes, the majority of whom are high school students.

A report in the sport section of today's edition gives an account of the sterling contribution of the diaspora at the Penn Relays.

Drivers of what are termed 'Dollar Vans' have had to shuttle most of the athletes from New York to Philadelphia, even making midnight runs, we are told, because most teams flew into John F Kennedy Airport as a cost-saving measure.

Jamaican-owned restaurants, in the meantime, packed hundreds of dinners which were distributed to the athletes on their arrival.

One diaspora group — Coalition of Jamaica — spared no effort in ensuring that the Team Jamaica Bickle hospitality room was stocked with snacks for the athletes.

The founder of that group, Mr Andrew Batchelor, reminded us of the true Jamaican spirit when he said: "As Jamaicans, it is our utmost responsibility to uphold and demonstrate the positive side of our people and our culture, and as a group we strive to show the level of our abilities worldwide, and will carry this responsibility proudly. We are here to make a difference."

Most appropriately, Team Jamaica Bickle's public relations officer Ms Andrea Daley thanked the restaurants in New York and Philadelphia that provided food for the athletes on their arrival in the USA.

Ms Daley identified them as Genesis1, Henrika's, The Door, Silver Krust, Ron's Caribbean Cuisine, Calabash, K&G's and Morgan's as she pointed out that Jamaicans now have a better understanding of what Team Jamaica Bickle is doing in support of the athletes.

Since the start of the relays, the athletes and Jamaican officials would have benefited from the generosity of Mr Vincent HoSang and his wife Jeanette of Caribbean Foods Delight who, for years, have set up a full kitchen for the team, cooking and serving approximately 3,000 meals daily.

That effort, combined with the performance of our athletes on the track, we submit, also works in Brand Jamaica's favour, as the country is on show for three days to a captive audience of well over 150,000 spectators.

Earlier this month at an Observer Monday Exchange, Mr Claire pointed to the marketing opportunities that the Penn Relays offer Jamaica.

It is our hope that those charged with the responsibility to promote the island seize those opportunities this year and are already planning how to make further use of them next year.

We already have a large network of willing and patriotic marketers in the diaspora. The country needs to utilise their energy and let them know in a big way that we appreciate them.





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