The advocacy of the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) has won the battle and now the war for the sport of netball as, for the first time in the history of the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games, the sport will be played at the 24th edition scheduled to take place in 2023 in San Salvador.
Commenting on this historic achievement, president of the JOA Christopher Samuda, who is a member of the executive board of Centro Caribe Sports which owns the games, said, “Netball got, deservedly, our approval to take a seat at the regional table, and with this accomplishment the journey now begins to globalise the sport and the JOA stands ready to again play a signal role.”
An established sport in English-speaking regional territories, and now a staple item on the sporting agenda of Spanish-speaking countries, secretary general and CEO of the JOA Ryan Foster was never in doubt that the sport would transition.
“I have the privilege of sitting on the Technical Commission of Centro Caribe Sports and from the get-go I inked my finger and campaigned for netball, for I was confident that the sport's credentials would result in a landslide victory,” he said.
As the number of Olympic sports on the agenda for multi-sport games increases, the need for a non-Olympic sport to ensure that it is “first to market” among its peers becomes increasingly critical to entry to such events.
“In so far as netball is concerned, we at the JOA understood that in order to become a resident of the household of multi-sport games of the Olympic movement, the sport had to muscle its way to first in the line and present, persuasively, credentials for occupancy”, Samuda said.
The pedigree of Jamaican netball is well known, and in the run-up to the 2023 San Salvador CAC Games, the JOA and Netball Jamaica in partnership with Centro Caribe Sports will be hosting educational workshops and training sessions for teams of Spanish-speaking countries with a view to enhancing their skill set and technical competencies in the sport.
“What is the value of knowledge and expertise if they're not shared in creating greater capital and opportunities for others in the sporting fraternity?” JOA Secretary General and CEO Foster said.
With the withdrawal of Panama City as host of the games, the executive board of Centro Caribe Sports moved quickly to re-start the bidding process to secure an alternative host and recently formalised the contract with the Government of the Republic of El Salvador, the municipality of San Salvador and the local organising committee.