Jamaica set to host proposed Caribbean-African Cup, reveals Grange

Observer staff reporter

Friday, March 15, 2019

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Minister of Sport Olivia Grange has revealed that plans are afoot for Jamaica to play host to a new international friendly football tournament.

Grange, who made the revelation during the official opening of the new Astro turf and facility at the UWI-JFF Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence on Wednesday, pointed out that her ministry is currently taking steps to finalise the execution of the Caribbean-African Cup.

According to the minister, whose portfolio also includes cultural responsibilities, the initiative is a part of the Jamaican Government's plan to strengthen ties with the African community, and if all goes efficiently, then the tournament could be launched in the coming months.

She said the concept of the Caribbean-African Cup came about through discussions with the African Union's Ambassador to the United States Arikana Chihombori-Quao, as well as the minister of finance for Accompong.

“We are celebrating the international decade of people of African descent and so this year our theme will focus on the decade. So, for example, President [Uhuru] Kenyatta has been invited to Jamaica to be our special guest for Independence (Day) celebrations and we are looking at other African heads to come for Emancipation Day and for heritage week.

“So in all of that we are discussing the establishment of a Caribbean-African Cup in football,” Grange told journalists.

“We have yet to finalise the date and I am yet to get the blessings of the JFF (Jamaica Football Federation)... I did mention it to the president and so we want to move quickly to focus on pulling that together and setting the date so that we can have full disclosure as to what is planned and to launch where this is to become an annual event,” she added.

With the national teams of Namibia and Botswana already confirmed, Grange hinted at the possibility of including the national teams of Trinidad and Tobago and Haiti.

“Within a couple of weeks we will be able to give more details on the Caribbean-Africa Cup football competition, they are friendlies but in the spirit of competition we will make it very exciting and I just want to emphasise the fact that this is further strengthening our connections with the continent of Africa.

“We have identified countries that want to come to Jamaica and they are anxious for us to finalise the details, and so we are going to finalise with the JFF and then we will be able to announce the dates,” Grange noted.

The minister also shared her thoughts on the historical achievement of installing the country's first full-size artificial surface, done in honour of the late former JFF president, Captain Horace Burrell.

The project, which was completed by a Costa Rican-based company Stadium Source, was contracted by Fifa to carry out the project, costing approximately US$600,000.

“I am very happy, I am walking on carpet. I was here for the groundbreaking and I think the contractors have done an excellent job and this is truly a tribute to Captain Horace Burrell. I am so happy that we are able to realise this as the first such Astro turf and I am looking forward to us having many more, I hope that Fifa and the JFF will be able to negotiate at least four more in short order,” she declared.

Meanwhile, JFF President Michael Ricketts, who was also on hand for the official opening of the surface, gave the Caribbean-African initiative his full endorsement.

“The minister and I have developed a wonderful relationship over the years that we have been operating together and indeed we are just delighted to partner with the Government and our African brothers. We have underestimated the power of the sport of football and there is this social and commercial value that we must explore at its optimum.

“So we, this Caribbean-African connection is something that we endorse wholeheartedly to ensure that we have that relationship with our African counterparts, of course Haiti, Trinidad and Jamaica are the principals as it relates to Caribbean football,” said Ricketts.

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