Digicel Foundation upgrades Paralympic basketball court
National Paralympic basketballer Alphanso Cunningham (right) and his coach Neville Sinclair (left) pass around a basketball as Jamaica Paralympic Association President Christopher Samuda (second left), Association Secretary General and Chief Executive Officer Ryan Foster (second right), and Digicel Jamaica Foundation Chairperson Jean Lowrie-Chin look on during a handing-over ceremony of the renovated basketball court at the Sir John Golding Rehabilitation Centre in St Andrew yesterday.

Jamaica Paralympic Association President Christopher Samuda says the renovated basketball court at the Sir John Golding Rehabilitation Centre will ensure that Jamaica's Paralympic talent comes to fruition.

The Digicel Jamaica Foundation made the official handover of the facility on Monday, which was upgraded at a cost of $10 million.

Samuda says having the court in operation once more is crucial to the national Paralympic basketball programme.

"We have always distinguished ourselves in wheelchair basketball and because the court was in disrepair that programme was, of course, abandoned for a few years," Samuda told the Jamaica Observer. "We partnered with Digicel and now the court has been refurbished and we'll be starting the programme again.

"The fact of the matter is in the past we've earned regional medals and we had a very good basketball team. This court is going to rejuvenate it, that spirit in the Paralympic movement, and we have young players. We'll be training and we'll be looking to go into regional competition."

Digicel Jamaica Foundation Chairperson Jean Lowrie-Chin says the body saw the enthusiasm and dedication of Jamaica's Paralympic athletes and was motivated to renovate the facility.

"The Digicel Foundation is a non-profit organisation that operates under three portfolios — education, special needs, and community development," she said. "With the overseeing from Construction Manager Carnel Campbell, we contributed $10 million to resurface the existing court, paint and mark the existing court, repair the viewing stand, and install additional lighting for the space.

"May this renovated location bring much joy and fulfilment to our Paralympian family. No one deserves it more."

Paralympic basketballer Alphanso Cunningham describes it as a wonderful feeling seeing the renovation because he and his teammates longed for it.

"We were playing on it for a couple of years now and it was really bad," he said. "So we needed this and it came at the right time. We wanted it for the Commonwealth Games, but it didn't happen. But luckily it still worked out and we're very grateful, and thanks to Digicel very, very much for really coming and refurbishing it and making it look how it does now. We are very appreciative of it, and this will help us now to continue to prepare ourselves for the future."

Samuda says the court will be used for other Paralympic sporting disciplines, such as volleyball and sitting volleyball. But he says that it will also be used to generate its own maintenance revenue.

"We have to have resources to finance the various programmes of our athletes," he said. "So we are open for business here at the Jamaica Paralympic Association's home. So anyone who wishes to have the benefit of the court can come to us and we will exercise our discretion in terms of the rental because we know that things are difficult and challenging, but we must earn. I've always said when you have an asset like this it must earn its keep and it must put something in the coffers."

— Rachid Parchment

Rachid Parchment

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