Sports

Lothian calls for support as 11-member team prepares for Caribbean Region TT tourney

Saturday, August 17, 2019

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Godfrey Lothian, president of Table Tennis Jamaica (TTJ), has once again renewed his call for support of the sport, as they prepare to send a squad to the Caribbean Region Table Tennis Federation (CRTTF) Championship in Dominican Republic next week.

Lothian, while beaming about the prospects of Jamaica's participation in the Mini Cadet (Under-11) and Pre-Cadet (Under-13) categories at the August 21-26 championship, pointed to the financial struggles faced by his association as he outlined how the 11-member team, scheduled to depart the island on Monday, was funded.

“In spite of the fact that we are going, this is a small team, as the TTJ was not able to fund the trips. Families have pooled funds to help the players, while several fund-raising efforts were undertaken. Real, tangible support is needed for the sport,” Lothian shared.

Jamaica will square off against countries such as Guyana, Barbados, Puerto Rico, and Trinidad and Tobago inside Sport Center in Santo Domingo.

The Under-11 team comprises Azizi Johnson, Matthew Fung, Rasheed Clarke and Jaden Ebanks on the boys' side, and female members Tsenaye Lewis, Olivia Petrekin, Lianna Campbell, Nevaeh Scott, and Keerah Scott, while Gari Wythe, Nicoy Smith and Scott make up the Under-13 team.

These members qualified for the national team following trials held in June and have been in training since then with coaches Sandra Riette and Dale Parham, both certified by the International Table Tennis Federation.

Lothian believes the team has the potential to perform well in this competition, given their exposure and experience from previous outings.

“We are happy that Jamaica will be represented in this tournament. Many of the players have developed strong skills and experience since 2016 because of exposure to regional tournaments held in Jamaica, Guyana, Cuba and the Dominican Republic. This group of cadets have been training consistently and we expect good results,” he reasoned.

Some of the players — Tsenaye Lewis and Gari Wythe — participated in the 2019 Caribbean Junior and Cadet Championships in Dominican Republic earlier this year, while Lewis was also a part of the team which represented Jamaica recently at the Latin American Cadet Championship last month.

Last year, Lewis and Azizi Johnson won silver for Jamaica in mixed doubles at the Caribbean Region Table Tennis Federation Mini and Pre-Cadet Championships where Jamaica placed third overall, with the girls' Under-11 team also finishing in second position.

Despite the progress being made, Lothian stressed that the sport is being hindered by inadequate and sporadic funding.

Currently, the team is short $1 million of its intended target of $3 million, to cover the costs of lodging, meals and incidentals.

So far, sponsor Optical Solutions Limited has underwritten the cost of the gear.

“Travelling abroad to play is not a luxury; it is an essential part of gaining exposure as a way of raising the standard of play and inspiring the athletes to aim higher and to be better. We have potential gold medallists and Olympians among this crop, but they will never be all they can be if we do not support them with the right funding, training and exposure,” Lothian declared.


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