JOA assistance excites Under-23 coach Duckie

Friday, March 22, 2019

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“Exciting , ecstatic, elated … these are words that are relative to what took place here this morning.”

Donovan Duckie, the men's national Under-23 football team head coach, had every reason to feel like he was on top of the world, following the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) $3.5 million sponsorship to the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), which will cover the salaries of himself and assistant coach Merron Gordon.

Handing over of the cheque took place on Tuesday morning at Olympic Manor, the JOA's Kingston headquarters, and Duckie called the partnership “a huge one”, also noting it was “unprecedented”.

“We're very excited in the Jamaica Olympic U23 squad for the support that the JOA has given. We've to say much, much thanks to their organisation with the tremendous support that we've seen.

“Our squad is presently in preparation with our local phase of camps, but a few days ago we went abroad to integrate the ones that we know internationally, to join force with the ones locally to create a good chemistry,” he stated.

“We have the Pan Am Games coming up in July in Peru, that is our Games that we're looking forward to. That'd be a good measuring stick for us, a good platform to prepare for the Olympic qualifiers, which will probably be a few months after that.”

Duckie pointed to that decisive stage as 'important'.

“The Concacaf leg is very important to us, but with the support that we've seen today it's solid to say we're headed in the right direction.

“Most of our players are from the RSPL, the core players; 50 per cent of the other players are internationally based. I'm very pleased with the preparation so far; we've played a few games, we've not lost, but these are local games. Our intention is to play more international games. We've played one international game, against St Vincent and the Grenadines, we did not lose that encounter, so we're very upbeat.

“What we want to see now is a higher level of teams that could bring out more competitiveness from us and this is what we're trying to cultivate,” added Duckie. “These words that we heard today will resonate with us and we'll fight, fight for our country until we qualify for the Olympics.”

Christopher Samuda, the JOA president, told players and officials that their goal was greater than medals.

“This is big business, this is not about participating, this is about performing. We don't participate when we go to international games, we perform, and I've repeatedly said, medals are not what we live for and they are not the be-all and end-all for us. What we want is your best performance and then the medal will be a privilege for us,” reasoned Samuda.

“So, my charge to you is to be what you will yourselves to be, and that is standard-bearers, not victors, standard bearers, standard-bearers who will not only acclaim the glory of the country, in the expression of the feet, hands and head, but also who will be globally an example on the field of football and to the game of sport,” added Samuda.

General secretary of the JOA, Ryan Foster, said Jamaica's football must take its rightful place on the world stage.

He said: “The JOA remains committed to the preservation of the Olympic legacy. For so long, Jamaica has done a great job in the areas of athletics and aquatics on the Olympic scene. We are seeing the emergence of top athletes in other sports in major and feel that football ought to take its place amongst those which are performing at the highest levels.”

Foster added: “This contribution is just another symbol of our commitment. Gentlemen, we wish you well and expect the best from you on and off the field of play.”

One of the players, Alex Marshall, expressed thanks for the support, noting that it is “good that they believe in us”.

Marshall added: “I think the programme is a good one … hopefully next year we'll be representing our country in Tokyo.”

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