THE Reggae Boyz are brimming with confidence for their historic CONCACAF Gold Cup football final against Mexico today at 7:30 p.m. (6:30 p.m. Jamaica time). Winfried Schäfer has built a team full of strength, belief and unity on and off the field that wants to cap their progress with an unprecedented win. “The players have to play football with concentration, with winning mentality,” Schäfer said. The Caribbean champions are unbeaten at the tournament, winning all their matches after their 2-2 opening game fixture against Costa Rica nearly three weeks ago. Since that game, they have conceded only one goal – in the semi-finals. Such has been their defence, built solidly throughout the team from back when Ryan Thompson replaced Dwayne Miller, because he got injured in the Canada match. Miller had himself replaced Duwayne Kerr, who had been at the Copa America, until he made one bizarre error that cost a goal and 1-0 loss against Paraguay. Thompson’s spill cost the US goal at Georgia Dome and with Miller and Andre Blake in waiting that may be one of the biggest decisions for the coach and his staff. All round, Jamaica’s Boyz match up well against Mexico who have hosted the World Cup Finals twice and been a staple for CONCACAF at the sport’s big dance. However, they have not been as smooth in all areas this championship. While they have been solid on their feet in attack, by netting 13 goals, Mexico have been wobbly in defence, where they have conceded five times. Additionally, for two consecutive matches in the knockout stage, the Mexicans have profited from bad officiating to get decisive penalties against Costa Rica, who they beat 1-0, then against Panama, which suffered in a hot-tempered semi-final by conceding two questionable penalties and a red card. Schäfer has also moved quickly to fix other positions when he thinks things are not working. It’s his way. It’s the way he wants his players to be, always thinking, always searching for ways to improve. In matches too, like in the El Salvador group match when the Central Americans were running roughshod over their opponents, Schäfer made changes in personnel and team shape and the problems were fixed. “We’ve played eight matches, everybody knows in this team what they have to do,” Schäfer said. “When a worker works with heart, he has luck.” As they’ve done in matches before, he noted that Jamaica’s shape for the final would be influenced by decisions to stifle Mexico, who are searching for their seventh title in this the 13th Gold Cup. In their last 10 matchups between the countries, dating back to 1997, Mexico won five and Jamaica two. Recent contests, however, paint an even picture, with Jamaica losing 1-0 and tying 0-0 in 2013 World Cup qualifying, when Jamaica secured its first tie in Mexico City. Other firsts this past week speak louder on Jamaica’s growth, which has coincided with Schäfer’s coming around the very 2013 period. ” … Two years down the line and everybody’s sort of comfortable with each other, everybody knows the dynamics of the group and it works very well,” said influential midfielder Joel ‘Jobi’ McAnuff. Key to Jamaica’s victory charge will be their trusted defending. The goalkeepers have been excellent, barring the semi-final glitch. Those in front have been solid, despite forced changes through Jermaine Taylor’s injury and Alvas Powell walking out on his country to lessen the options. Michael Hector, who was strong at Copa, has filled the void left by Taylor with a mind good enough to read the game while working in tandem with sturdy Wes Morgan. Kemar Lawrence has proved key with his long throwing, which has set up two goals, a set play weapon also possessed by Adrian Mariappa, who has also been sound on the other flank. Key to everything, going both ways, are central midfielders Rodolph Austin and Je-Vaughn Watson, along with McAnuff and Garath McCleary, whose two goals tie with main striker Giles Barnes in the eight goals netted by the team. Boyz well matched Schäfer’s call
HARRISON, NJ (AP): Hulk scored in the 10th minute after an early stretch of Brazilian dominance and the five times world champions beat Costa Rica 1-0 yesterday in a World Cup qualifying tune-up match. Despite Costa Rica employing five defenders, Brazil clearly had the better of play throughout, with the Ticos only occasionally managing to get forward on counters. Brazil used a somewhat experimental line-up with Hulk as the lead striker. Manager Dunga stayed with his starters until the middle of the second half. He used six substitutes, sending in Orlando City forward Kaka in the 67th and Neymar in the 82nd, both to large ovations from the crowd of 19,146 at Red Bull Arena. Neymar, only last week, returned to Barcelona’s line-up after a case of the mumps and reportedly limped out of training Thursday after grabbing his knee. Brazil took the lead when Hulk and Costa Rican defender Giancarlo Gonzalez raced to get to a ball from Danilo out of the back. Gonzalez overran the ball and slipped as Hulk lost his footing and fell. Hulk recovered first and put a left-footed shot past goalkeeper Patrick Pemberton.
Everyone wants to play T20 cricket to the extent that a No Objection Certificate is required from the country of a player who wants to play it. The No Objection Certificate is to prevent a drain of players on Test cricket, otherwise players would leave the Test game for the lucrative T20 game at the drop of a hat. Right now, especially in the West Indies, there is a war going on between Test cricket and T20 cricket, so much so that many fans believe that the West Indies Test team would have been much better had they had the services of the likes of Chris Gayle, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell, Dwayne Bravo, and Lendl Simmons. The West Indies, because of the schedule of their domestic tournaments and the lack of money to pay their players reasonably well, suffer most of all the Test-paying countries and more than the likes of New Zealand and South Africa. Many of the world’s cricket people lament the fall of the West Indies, however, or so they say, and they keep trying to find a solution to the problem, with many suggesting a “window” for T20 cricket. Nothing has worked. NO OBJECTION CERTIFICATE Once upon a time, cricket was played mostly for entertainment and for fun, first-class cricket and Test cricket for a little pay, for one’s country, and for glory. Times have changed, however, and while cricket is sometimes now played for fun, today, it is looked upon as a profession for some, especially the recently popular T20 version. Test cricket, still considered the best of cricket by a vast majority of players and fans, is, however, gradually losing ground, or has lost ground in the popularity stakes. Whereas Test cricket still means something to those in cricket, T20 is the order of the day. It is the thing to play, for young and old cricketers alike, it is the thing to watch, and the thing which everyone wants to play. And the reason for that, apart from the entertainment, the music, including the drums, the dancing girls, the flashing lights, and all the things that greet a towering hit for six or a blinding bit of fielding, is money, lots of money. CHANGING TIMES Recently, however, the former England player Kevin Pietersen came up with a suggestion. He called on the powers that be to change the order of things, to improve the pay to play Test cricket in the poorer countries, and Jason Holder, the young captain of the West Indies, quickly supported it. The suggestion was to improve their pay to compete with the pay to play T20 cricket so that the players would play both versions of the game, or at least would not leave Test cricket to play T20 cricket. That sounds good, except for a few things. Cricket, it has always been said, especially recently, is business, big business, and no business pays out what it does not make. Cricket is poor in Jamaica, and the West Indies these days. Hardly anyone watches cricket at any level in Jamaica or in the West Indies these days except when it comes to the privately-owned T20 competition, and West Indies cricket makes no money, at least hardly anyone pays to see cricket in the West Indies. Why, it may be asked, should those countries who love cricket and those who pay to see cricket subsidise those countries who do nothing to develop the game, those countries which do not even go to see it being played? Cricket is no different from anything else in life. What you put in is what you get out, most times. If you put in nothing, you get back nothing. It is as simple as that. On top of that, there is no guarantee, at least not in Jamaica or the rest of the West Indies, that with more money will come greater responsibility and, therefore, more development. The more money, from whatever quarter, will probably, more than likely, only bring greater swagger from the players. Holder has since been denied a No Objection Certificate to play in the Pakistan T20 League by the West Indies Board, and from all reports, he is an angry man. It was a tough call, and it must be rough on both sides. As a young man, Holder needs to look about his future, but as the West Indies Board, the board members must look about West Indies cricket, and as the West Indies captain, Holder is also obligated to do so. He is expected to play in the West Indies domestic competitions so as to get to know the players and also to protect the integrity of West Indies cricket. PAY TO PLAY TEST CRICKET These are changing times. West Indies cricket is in a bind. It needs money to help itself grow, to properly pay the players, and to develop the sport. West Indies cricket was once the best in the world. If the West Indies is to get more money for cricket, it must come from West Indies cricket. It must come from their own sweat and blood, not from handouts, or gifts, or what have you. Hardly anybody watches cricket in the West Indies these days, and in Jamaica especially, hardly anyone remembers cricket, except whenever the West Indies lose a Test match and all the cursing starts. Why, therefore, should other people pay the West Indies to play the game? West Indies cricket will only get stronger if it stands on its own two feet. It must stop employing foreigners in an effort to solve the problem of poor structure and poor performance, stop paying local people to do nothing, and start running a clean and lean ship. The days of bringing in people from England to show the West Indies the way is long gone, by at least 66 years. Money is needed, very much so, but it must come from within, from utilising good, honest, hard-working and knowledgeable administrators at all levels. It must come from the hard work, improved skills, and performances of the cricketers, all the cricketers, from full houses at matches, and from the support of sponsors and others who can benefit from the glory, from the triumphs of a successful and wonderful team.
Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) president Mike Fennell said they have been paying close attention to the various health and political issues affecting Brazil ahead of this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and that they were pleased with the precautions and countermeasures being taken. The Zika virus outbreak in Brazil has been a major cause for concern going into the 2016 Olympic Games. The virus, which the World Health Organization has declared an international public health emergency, has created great uncertainty and has left many doubting whether or not they should attend the games in the South American country. There is also the issue of an impeachment in congress for the country’s first female president, Dilma Rousseff, while there are also concerns with water pollution. Noting that he hopes that the political situation can be resolved before the games commence on August 5, Fennell said he was comfortable with the situation at this point. “In Rio, there are a number things we have to deal with. Everyone knows there is a public health problems with the ZIKV, but we are quite comfortable with the arrangements that have been made for the protection of the athletes, officials and other people, so we are satisfied Brazil has taken all the precautions that are necessary and we are monitoring that carefully,” Fennell said. He also believes it would be best if the country’s leaders resolve the uncertain political situation ahead of the games. “What has not directly impacted the games but will affect the nation is the government situation in Brazil. The president of the country is facing impeachment, and that always presents a challenge when you have political uncertainty. We just have to wait and see how it unfolds, but it would be best if that is sorted out before the games not, just for Jamaica, but for the whole world.” he continued. Meanwhile, the long-serving JOA boss believes that the Olympic Games today plays an even greater role in enhancing the careers and reputation of sportsmen and women right across the globe. “The demand for a place on the Olympic team is even greater than ever before because it is such an important event in the life and career of any sports person. It’s the ultimate achievement, representing your country at the Olympic Games. This has been enhanced even more for those athletes, who are following careers, as representing your country at the Olympic Games opens up doors for professional contacts later on, and if you medal it even goes much further … it’s a tremendous thing for the athlete,” added Fennell. NECESSARY PRECAUTIONS
HURDLES CONDITIONING Lennox Graham, who was named the Atlantic Region Women’s Track and Field Coach of the Year in the United States on Monday, says he has achieved his “short, medium and long-term goals” with that coveted award, while thanking God for what he called a “major blessing”. Graham earned the award through a vote among his peers, the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. “I am feeling very blessed for sure. First of all, you have to get coach of the year from your conference, and to get it from my region is a big blessing,” he told The Gleaner in a telephone interview. Graham continued: “I am achieving the short, medium term and long-term goals right now, just helping to shape young lives and while at it continue to enjoy life,” he pointed out. The Jamaican is the head coach of Johnson C. Smith University’s men’s/women’s track and field cross country programme, where he is currently in his eighth year of guiding the Golden Bulls. “It (coaching) comes with a lot of challenges which people don’t see, but we persevere,” Graham continued. “To get the support from my peers and to be named top coach from my region is a blessing.” It was Graham’s first time winning the top award. “You don’t start a season thinking about awards. For coaches, the real deal is athletes; we focus on producing them, but when we get awards like these, we feel a big level of appreciation.” Graham is responsible for conditioning 100m hurdles World Champion, Danielle Williams, her sister, Shermaine, and 400m hurdler Leford Green. A former Kingston College (KC) student-athlete with over 14 years of coaching experience at the junior and senior level, Graham, himself a hurdling champion, won six Boys Champs titles. He is also a 1984 graduate of Alabama State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Graham later earned his master’s degree in business administration at The University of New Orleans, in 2006. Meanwhile, fellow Johnson C. Smith coach, Steve Joyner, congratulated Graham on the institution’s website. “For all your exemplary years of contribution to Johnson C Smith University, the CIAA and NCAA college basketball, I applaud you. For your leadership of our department, I respect and appreciate you,” Joyner said. “For your latest achievement of being inducted into the CIAA Hall of Fame, I congratulate you! Through it all you remain humble and true to the student-athletes in your care. Hearty CONGRATULATIONS. “Coach J! “This is a truly deserving award for your excellent services to the CIAA over the past decades.”
BACK-TO-BACK VICTORIES Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, coached by Francis for a decade, joined Tyus and Gail Devers with back-to-back 100m victories of her own in 2008 and 2012 and Thompson gave Francis a record equalling hat-trick in Rio. Noted American coach, Bobby Kersee, conditioned Devers to hair-splitting wins in 1992 and 1996. In 1992, Devers barely held off Jamaica’s Juliet Cuthbert. Four years later, Merlene Ottey surged to within millimetres of Devers, who became the second woman win with the Olympic 100m twice. Kersee also coached 1988 winner, Florence Griffith-Joyner, for much of her career. Her 200-metre silver medals in the 1984 Olympics and the 1987 World Championships came with Kersee directing her training. However, she married 1984 Olympic triple jump champion, Al Joyner, and he took over as Florence’s coach for the 1988 season. Before long, she returned to Kersee’s guidance and raced away from her rivals in Seoul, the South Korean city that hosted the Olympic Games that year. Fraser-Pryce and Thompson have come through the track and field programme at the University of Technology and the MVP Track Club, where Francis is the head coach. With his coaching advice, Fraser-Pryce has also won an unprecedented trio of World Championship titles in the straight line dash. She and Thompson share the Jamaican 100-metre record at 10.70 seconds, which was set by Fraser-Pryce in 2012. Thompson matched it at this year’s National Senior Championships. Elaine Thompson moved to the forefront of women’s sprinting with her gold medals in the just concluded Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. When she crossed the line first in the 100 metres in Rio, her victory vaulted coach Stephen Francis into an exclusive club. Her performance made Francis just the third man to coach three successive gold-medal winners in the women’s 100 metres. It first occurred in 1960, 1964 and 1968 when sprinters coached by Ed Temple won the 100m for the United States. The first triumph was part of a 100/200/4x100m sprint triple by Wilma Rudolph at the Rome Olympics. That was followed by back-to-back 100-metre wins by Wyomia Tyus. Rudolph and Tyus were student-athletes under Temple’s care at Tennessee State University. Tyus was in fact, the first athlete, male or female, to defend an Olympic 100-metre title.
National age-group table tennis champion Kelsey Davidson is on her way to a week-long training camp in Lima, Peru. The 11-year-old is among 12 players from the Caribbean, Latin and South America who have earned this opportunity. She is being accompanied by her father and coach, Richard, who is grateful to the donors who have made her trip to the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) event possible. Speaking in Spanish Town last Thursday, he said special thanks to the Tourism Enhancement Fund, Windalco, Tastee Limited, Earth Elements, Sea Freight Shipping, Reggae Jamaica, and the parents and friends of his Angels Table Tennis Academy for covering the US$3000 cost for the trip. The Davidsons left the island for Peru yesterday. Kelsey was selected on the basis of her solid performance at the recent Caribbean Pre-Cadet Championships held in Kingston in August. She was second in the ‹nder-11 singles and teamed with Lena Campbell to win gold in the doubles. Though she has missed a few days of training due to illness, her dad and coach said “she’s excited and ready to play”. Priyanka Khellawan of Trinidad and Tobago, who beat little Davidson to win that singles event inside Kingston’s National Arena, will also be among the 12 young players at camp in Lima. They will be instructed by top coaches from the ITTF. TAKEN LIGHTLY “I think Jamaicans have taken it lightly, but I can tell you, it’s a big breakthrough for Jamaica,” Richard explained. “She actually is the first Under-11 to be invited by the ITTF to this training camp,” he further outlined. The federation is staging similar camps around the world, with four from the Peru group going on an international tournament, in Qatar next year. “At the same time, even if she doesn’t qualify for that next tournament the experience and the breakthrough she’d have gotten will bring back a lot to the children,” her dad and coach projected. Kelsey’s clubmates at the Angels Table Tennis Academy are just as pleased about her trip as she is. “The children are actually excited that someone from the club is going to Peru,” said Coach Davidson, “so it will motivate them to train harder and see that they can accomplish it also.” Looking ahead, the coach of the Academy projected: “I have two or three young girls who I think can make it next year if we put in the training.”
After being returned unopposed to the presidency of the Jamaica Volleyball Association (JAVA), for a second two-year term, Rudolph Speid is pointing an upturn in competitive success as a point of reference for his steward-ship of the sport in Jamaica.Speid noted that the local volleyball programme has improved under his leadership with the nation now making a habit of winning international competitions.”We had a great year in volleyball as we entered five tournaments and won three of them. This is the first time Jamaica was winning any tournament and now we have won three,” said Speid following the annual general meeting last Saturday at the Jamaica Olympic Association offices.”We were able to accomplish these feats because of sponsor-ship that totalled $30 million, although we ended with a deficit of $1.3 million,” he disclosed.”We won two beach tourna-ments as well as an Under-19 male tournament,” added Speid, who is a former Kingston and St Andrew Football Association (KSAFA) president.BEST LIBEROAt the Under-19 Caribbean qualifiers held in Suriname last month, Jamaica’s 15 year-old Clifton Clarke was also awarded the best libero prize.”He (Clifton Clarke), who is a Camperdown High school student, was the youngest person to have won the Libero Award for the best defender on the court. That is a great achievement for young Clarke,” Speid said.Now, Speid is looking towards next year where Jamaica will be engaged in several tournaments.”We are invited to a number of tournaments and have also qualified for a few in beach and world championship. However, the biggest challenge is finding the money. We will be leaning on the Government, as well as hosting fundraising events,” he explained.At present, JAVA has a three-member executive that was returned unopposed, including Speid, Jackie Cowan as general secretary; and Audley Weiras treasurer. The constitution has changed, however, allowing the inclusion of two vice-presidents and four Confederations chairmen. Those position will be done by way of voting at a date to be announced.- M.S.
Cast-off West Indies batsman Darren Bravo could be in further trouble with the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB).This follows his failure to follow two directives from the WICB at the weekend pertaining to the deletion of a statement he made on Twitter with regard to WICB president Dave Cameron and the subsequent issuance of a statement on the impropriety of his actions.Bravo, the second-highest runs scorer for the West Indies Test team for the past two seasons, called Cameron an “idiot” in at tweet last Friday, November 11.This was in response to statements made by Cameron during a television interview in relation to Bravo being offered a “C” contract, the lowest of five categories of central retainer contracts offered by the WICB.Cameron said in the interview that Bravo was being downgraded from an “A” contract to a “C” contract due to a drop in his batting averages.However, Bravo, in response, said Cameron was wrong in his assessment as he had never held an “A” contract before.”You have been failing 4 d last 4yrs. Y don’t u resign and FYI [For Your Information] I’ve neva been given an A contract. Big idiot @davec51,” stated Bravo.The WICB, in what was a swift response a day later, proceeded to issue a match/tour cancellation letter to Bravo, who was in Zimbabwe with the West Indies team preparing for their Tri-Nation one-day international series involving the hosts and Sri Lanka.WRITTEN NOTICEThe letter, which was issued by WICB director of cricket Richard Pybus, also had in it the two withdrawals of statement ultimatums, which had an expiration date of last Saturday.”Clause 9.3.1 of your match/tour contract provides that in default by you in respect of your obligations under the contract, WICB may, in its absolute discretion, cancel the contract by written notice to the Cricketer,” said Pybus in the letter.”In light, therefore, of your breach of your obligations to the WICB in clause 184.108.40.206 of your match/tour contract, the letter serves as a written notice that your match/tour contract is hereby cancelled.”Added Pybus:”We also request you immediately remove the highlighted tweet from your account and desist from tweeting about WICB officials in the future.”We further request that you acknowledge, via your Twitter account, the impropriety of your actions and your recognition that your decision to publicly express your views on social media was not conduct befitting of a West Indies cricketer.”I ask that you also note that any further such action on your part, including failure to comply with our request above by 4 p.m. Eastern Caribbean time on November 12 2016, may result in further disciplinary action, including referral to the WICB Disciplinary Committee.”Up to press time yesterday, the referred tweet by Bravo remained on his Twitter account, and there were no additional remarks with regard to the tweet.
Defending champions Mico ‘A’ secured back-to-back titles in Senior Intercollegiate Netball action as the Janet Guy and Connie Francis-coached team, in what was a repeat of last year’s final, overpowered 2014 champions UWI ‘A’ with a big 61-42 win. Sunshine Girls goal shooter Jhaniele Fowler-Reid led the way for the champions, scoring 44 goals from 51 attempts. Both teams had advanced to the finals three days earlier with contrasting wins over their semi-final opponents as Mico blew away G.C. Foster ‘A’ 72-30, while in a very close encounter, UWI eventually outlasted a fighting Utech team 41-32. Heading into Tuesday’s finals, UWI, who a week ago were also beaten 46-28 by Mico in the preliminary round of the competition were bent on upstaging them where it mattered most and were off to a good start. With the majority of the fans pushing them on, UWI got out of the blocks quickly, racing to a quick 5-1 lead inside five minutes with national player, Thristina Harwood at wing attack and Rebekkah Robinson at goal attack combining well to spread the ball to lanky goal shooter Shimona Nelson. EASY GOALS Nelson was well on target, scoring all five early attempts easily as the Mico defence led by Shantel Slater (goalkeeper) and goal defence Anika McKenzie struggled to contain her. UWI kept the lead for the majority of the quarter before Mico took over 11-10 with less than five minutes to go before extending it to 17-11 at the end of the quarter. With Fowler-Reid and Goal Attack Stephanie Anderson, who came in for the injured Nicole Dixon, having good early synergy in the second quarter and centre Trishana Hanson playing well, they looked a different Mico team in the second quarter. Mico outscored their opponent 18-9 to take a 36-20 lead at the half-time break. Despite being down by 16 goals going into the third quarter, the UWI team showed some fight here and with Mico making several turnovers they reduced the deficit scoring five unanswered goals as Mico led 36-25. Nelson found her range as they outscored the Mico team 13-9 with Mico’s lead standing at 45-33 going into the final quarter. Like they did in the second quarter, the more experienced Mico team settled early, showing their class once again as they dominated here pulling away in the end after outscoring their opponent 16-9 to end on a high note beating their opponent by 19 goals. Anderson assisted Fowler Reid with 16 goals from 22 attempts. Nelson was the top scorer for the losers with 30 from 38 attempts with her partner, Robinson scoring 12 from 19. “It is a very proud moment for us at Mico. The team had some errors in the earlier part of the game, but they found their rhythm later and we made several changes because we have rounded squad, and they gelled well afterwards,” said Guy in her first season at the helm.