Don't let our dream die!

Jamaica's Under-19 female lacrosse players make impassioned plea for financial support

Observer staff reporter

Sunday, July 14, 2019

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Being selected to a national female lacrosse squad is a rare achievement for any schoolgirl, and achieving this honour comes only through dedication and sacrifice.

But, with the excitement of being selected to a national team, comes the harsh reality of the finances and resources needed for these players to compete at the highest level.

These financial constraints have left the determined and talented players from Jamaica's Under-19 female lacrosse team waiting with bated breaths, as their hopes of representing the country on a historic stage internationally hangs in the balance.

Despite a robust fundraising effort by both the players and the Jamaica Lacrosse Association, the team is still some ways off from its intended target of over US$100,000, to cover airfare, accommodation, and meals for the 2019 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) Women's Lacrosse Under-19 World Championship in Ontario, Canada.

As such, president of the local governing body Calbert Hutchinson is pleading for support to get the players to the August 1-10 championship, where they would be the first Under-19 female team from Jamaica or the Caribbean to make an appearance.

“We are way behind our target in the overall budget for the team; we manage based on our own fund-raising initiative and in-kind donations to cover at least half of that. But the last time, before other smaller donations came in, we were in the red of about US$48,000, which is roughly a little over six million Jamaican dollars.

“So we divided that among our players and we work out an individual cost which is about US$2,500 (Jamaican $350,000) per player, so we have been reaching out to possible sponsors asking them to sponsor a girl or two for this tournament,” Hutchinson told the Jamaica Observer, while overseeing a training session at Wolmer's Girls' on Thursday.

Having seen the players worked tirelessly and wait patiently to be selected to place their names in the annals of the country's sporting history, Hutchinson noted that there would be obvious disappointment should they fail to make the July 28 departure date.

According to Hutchinson, Jamaican athletes, and the nation as a whole, have benefited from the growing realisation that the country is blessed with incredible athletic talent.

This he said resulted in the government placing an ever-increasing focus on the sport of lacrosse as a form of national, human, and economic development, as the sport is one that captures the spirit of the Jamaican people.

“One thing I have been saying for the longest time, we need to invest in sports for tomorrow and not sports of yesterday. The traditional sports are flooded and the youths are moving towards non-traditional sport and this is one of them along with rugby and fencing,” Hutchinson reasoned.

“This is what they want and so I am appealing to sponsors out there and to corporate Jamaica, invest in our youth — and this is one way we can invest in our youth because there are so many opportunities where lacrosse is concerned,” he added.

Having started in 2014 with just four schools — St George's College, Kingston College, Convent of Mercy Academy “Alpha” and Holy Trinity — Hutchinson pointed to the significant growth of the sport where over 300 players, locally and overseas, form pools for the Under-19 and senior male and female teams.

With the senior male team getting their first taste of international competition with a 13th-place finish out of 46 countries at the World Championships in Israel last year, Hutchinson said the Under-19 team's participation would be another significant milestone.

Unlike the men's team, the majority of the women's Under-19 team is composed of all but two Jamaican-born citizens.

“We are poised now to take part in our second world championship, but this is the first for our Under-19 females, thereby building on what the men achieved last year. So this is a historic moment not only for Jamaica, but for the Caribbean and the girls are trained from Monday to Saturday.

“So we have been putting in a lot into this... the only setback is that they have not had any international experience and going up (to Canada), we have made arrangements for them to take part in a few friendlies before their first game,” Hutchinson shared.

Jamaica's Under-19 females have been drawn in Pool C alongside Germany, Republic of Korea, China, and Kenya.

“There are about four teams that will give us a serious challenge, so we are not looking to come first; we are just looking to make our mark being in it for the first time.

“They are going to get the experience and then a number of them on the team will be able to take part in the next Under-19 championship as well. So I think we are going to do extremely well, we are going to move out of the group round and we might be able to go to the semi-final,” Hutchinson ended.

Contributions can be made via the teams' GoFundMe account or through deposit to the Jamaica Lacrosse Association Limited Scotia Centre accounts — 964945 (USD) or 964944 (JMD).

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