Courts boosts bocce team to 2019 Special Olympics Invitational Youth Games


Courts boosts bocce team to 2019 Special Olympics Invitational Youth Games

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

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BOOSTED by the support of Courts and other sponsors, a five-member Jamaica team left the island yesterday for Ontario, Canada, to compete in unified bocce at the 2019 Special Olympics Invitational Youth Games.

The team comprises unified partners Arianna Smith and Shantae Rose, who are both formerly of Pembroke Hall Primary, and Special Olympics Jamaica (SOJ) athletes Michael Baker, Joel Williams and Javaughnie Taylor.

Baker is from Best Care Special Education School, while Williams and Taylor hail from Randolph Lopez School of Hope.

The youngsters are accompanied by head of delegation Gloria Gordon and coach Hugh McDonald.

SOJ has enjoyed immense global success in bocce — a sport in which a ball is under-armed at a target with points accumulated based on its proximity to the target.

Jamaican teams won multiple medals in bocce at both the 2015 Los Angeles and 2019 Abu Dhabi World Summer Games.

There has been investment in the youth programmes, with Special Olympics Jamaica and the Institute of Sports partnering to incorporate bocce training and competition during a summer camp in 2017.

Smith and Rose were introduced to bocce at the 2017 camp.

“I am excited to see our young bocce athletes have this opportunity to compete internationally as they are too young to participate in the World Winter and Summer Games. I'm confident they will represent the country well,” said Roy Howell, the SOJ sports programme director.

On Friday, Courts had a ceremonial cheque presentation at its Cross Roads branch after sponsoring $500,000 to cover the team's airfare to the inaugural Invitational Youth Games.

The delegation is set to return on Friday.

Through sport activities and competition, the Special Olympics movement focuses on breaking down barriers that exclude people with intellectual disabilities from mainstream society.

The unified sports programme brings together people with intellectual disabilities and those without these disabilities for training and competition.

—Sanjay Myers

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