JOA wants Sabina Park to become a cathedral for Olympic sport

Sunday, January 20, 2019

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The Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) will be looking to establish the country as a renowned and respected site for Olympic sport, which includes partnering with Sabina Park Holdings that manages the storied cricket facility.

President of the JOA, Christopher Samuda shared their vision during a press conference on Friday, January 18, at R Hotel in New Kingston, where details of the Clarence Brown (CB) Crocs International Sevens Rugby Tournament were divulged. The tournament was due to take place yesterday.

The tournament comprises 30 teams, inclusive of eight men's and four women's senior teams, eight high school boys and four high school girls teams, two over-35 teams, two “Old Crocs”, two “Tiny Tots Crocs” and an exhibition match-up between the premier outfits, Jamaica Crocs — the national men's team, and a past national outfit with players from the 1980s.

A host of foreign-based players were scheduled to be on show for the tournament which has, as its main sponsor, the JOA.

“What better place to have this competition but at Sabina Park, where the past, present, and I have no doubt, future witness feats of courge, determination, character, artistry, comradeship and excellence while serving as a learning ground in testing mettle when disappointment of doubt occur,” said Samuda.

“The JOA will therefore be seeking a partnership with Sabina Park Holdings in bringing to the revered cricket mecca, along South Camp Road, Olympic sports, in establishing Sabina Park as a regional and an international Olympic venue. Cricket will remain indisputably the king of the royal court, but will have Olympic sports as able courtiers.

“This is part of the overall vision of the JOA — establishing Jamaica as a renowned and respected location for global competition in Olympic sport, while encouraging our youth to aspire to play on a ground where champions and standard-bearers have walked with history and given invaluable lessons in sportsmanship,” Samuda shared.

Chairman of the Jamaica Rugby Football Union (JRFU), Jerry Benzwick said the presence of overseas-based national players adds prestige to the tournament,which had its sixth staging yesterday.

“It gives it a level of prestige and expectations because the boys who play for us here want to play with our boys overseas, and they don't get that opportunity often. So this is a wonderful chance for us to blend these players and for us to get to know each other, and for the players from overseas to feel the vibe and energy from Jamaica,” said Benzwick.

The JFRU head said the tournament fits part of a wider development plan for rugby's growth.

“This year we're having a Sevens Series, so it's seven Sevens. We're doing seven tournaments in seven different places, and what that does is it introduces rugby into seven different areas. We've gone to St Ann so far, we had one at Mona. Now we're down at Sabina and the next one is probably going to be at G C Foster College. There's supposed to be three more and one is going to be in MoBay, one might be in Clarendon, and then I'm not sure where the other one's going to be because we're still looking at the venues for that,” Benzwick shared.

The Jamaica Crocs won the gold medal at the Central American and Caribbean Games in July and has since qualified for the Rugby Sevens World Cup.

Ryan Foster, CEO of the JOA, says their continued rise encouraged support to the CB Crocs Sevens.

“The JOA is extremely proud of the Rugby Union and the work that they have been doing. Jamaica was the only Carribean country that participated in the World Cup. The Union has completely bought into our vision and we are seeing it manifested in their performances,” said Foster.

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