Organisations such as Friends of Football, Masters and Celebrities and World Sports International teamed up to contribute football gear to Barbican FC and Boys’ Town FC during a brief handing over ceremony at Barbican Complex last Friday.Also involved in the sponsorship of the gear were musicians Dean Fraser, Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare, as well as Lloyd Plummer of England.In making the handing-over to the clubs, organiser Clive ‘Busy’ Campbell said it is a continuation of their generosity to the sport.”We have always contributed gear to Boys’ Town, and following a promise last year, we also included Barbican. We have made the contribution to the clubs because they need it more than some other clubs,” Campbell told The Gleaner.”Because of the economic situation in the country, the support is not great at the club level. We need to do what we can to help the sport, so our organisation will continue to do what we can,” he added.In response, Andrew Price, Boys’ Town’s Premier League coach, said the gear will go a long way in assisting the club.”We’re very elated. They have been doing it for several years. A set of gear cost approximately $150,000, and this helps us a lot. They have always supported us and we truly appreciate that,” Price said.
Champion sprinter POTCHEEN should defy topweight once again and win today’s grade-one feature over 1200 metres for the None Such Sprint Trophy at Caymanas Park. The $1.2 million race is run annually in honour of the legendary native-bred sprinter None Such, who was Horse of the Year in 1967. Significantly, None Such won more than 20 races in an illustrious career and was ridden to victory on many occasions by Hall of Famer Kenneth Mattis, who died in October last year at age 78. Fittingly, the Kenneth Mattis OD Memorial Trophy over 2000 metres for overnight allowance horses will be run as the supporting feature on the card, this attracting seven starters, including top contenders ROYAL VIBES, MIRACLE STAR and BOLD AVIATOR. POTCHEEN, who shoulders topweight of 57.0kg with customary rider Omar Walker aboard, is out for the first time since winning the Lotto Sprint Trophy over 1100 metres on May 23, a race in which he closed rapidly on the rails to beat the fleet-footed FORTUNEONEHUNDRED by a neck in the fairly good time of 1:06.0. In that race, the Harry Parsard-trained POTCHEEN had stable-companion UPPA TUNE behind in fifth, while further behind were PETE’SWILDONE and the 2013 derby winner, PERFECT NEIGHBOUR. All three renew rivalry with POTCHEEN on slightly improved terms at the weights, and with UPPA TUNE and the Wayne DaCosta-trained PERFECT NEIGHBOUR having looked razor-sharp at exercise, it could be closer. Both UPPA TUNE and PERFECT NEGHBOUR have won their subsequent races, the Parsard-trained UPPA TUNE capturing the Reggae Trophy over the straight on July 11, and PERFECT NEIGHBOUR the Prime Minister’s Stakes over 2000 metres on August 6. UPPA TUNE, in particular, represents the genuine speed in this small field, and with Paul ‘Country’ Francis retaining the ride aboard the versatile American horse, he will have to be caught. However, a well-prepared POTCHEEN won’t be far off turning for home, and his now-famous stretch run should prove too much for UPPA TUNE in deep stretch. Other firm fancies on the card are TARANIS (Ellis up) to go one better in the second race over 1820 metres, FORCE DE JOUR to repeat in the third over the straight, down-in-class INFANTRY OFFICER in the sixth, DOOLAHIN in the eighth, and ROYAL VIBES in the Kenneth Mattis OD Memorial Trophy.
LONDON (AP):New Zealand cricket captain Brendon McCullum has given evidence in a London court alleging the former star allrounder Chris Cairns approached him with a “business proposition” that involved match fixing.Former New Zealand international Cairns is accused of lying during a libel action against Indian Premier League founder Lalit Modi and is facing charges of perjury and perverting the course of justice.McCullum and former Australia captain Ricky Ponting are among the cricketers who have been called to give evidence.Britain’s Press Association reported yesterday that McCullum told the Southwark Crown Court he was in Kolkata, India in April 2008 when he received a phone call from Cairns, who wanted to discuss a business proposition and asked him to meet at his hotel.McCullum said he was shocked when Cairns laid out the plan, saying he thought of the former New Zealand allrounder “as a friend I looked up to and someone I trust”.He said Cairns asked him if he knew anything about spot fixing in cricket, which is where players can manipulate the scoring rate either as a bowler or a batsman.”I was shocked. I sort of thought he may have been joking, but I quickly became aware that he was not joking. He said that everybody is doing it; all the big boys are doing it. Will you take it on?” McCullum was quoted as saying.McCullum said he rejected the approach in a later phone call, saying: “I wish I had said no straight away. I could not comprehend that Chris would put me in a position which would risk my future in the game.”In 2010, Modi used a social media account to accuse Cairns of fixing a game in the now defunct Indian Cricket League, a rival Twenty20 competition to the IPL, in 2008.Cairns sued Modi in London for libel and was awarded damages but is now subject to the perjury action.
With another competitive and intriguing Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships just over three months away, Excelsior High School’s athletics fraternity is looking to make its 13th annual Wesley Powell Heart Institute of the Caribbean (HIC) track and field meet a massive one that will help them rally momentum to do well in 2016.The event, which was launched at Excelsior High yesterday, is set for Saturday, December 12.It is open to clubs and institutions, high, junior high and primary teams, with a total of 40 track and 28 field events billed for boys and girls from Classes One to Four.A team from The Cayman Islands has been specially invited for the meet. Olympian Grace Jackson will serve as meet director.Yesterday’s guest speaker, legendary sprint coach Glen Mills, who has conditioned six-time-Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt at the Racers Track Club, said his charges won’t be participating but gave the meet high marks.”It’s too early for us,” said Mills of his Racers charges.”I think it’s an excellent meet. I was here last year, and I was very impressed, and it’s the kind of meet that you would need at this time of the year to evaluate where you are and how your training programme has been going,” he told The Gleaner in an interview.”Excelsior must be congratulated for maintaining the format over the 13 years,” Mills said yesterday.Excelsior’s team is coached by Michael Vassell, while competitions directors are David Riley and Xavier Gilbert.Heart Institute of the Caribbean is in its second year of a $10-million sponsorship, and will be awarding gift certificates to winners.”At HIC and HIC Foundation, activities such as these form a very important part of our outreach to the nation. We are keen on this because it concerns the care and well-being of our young people,” said Lisa D’Oyen, executive director of HIC.The meet was first staged in 1998 to honour Wesley Powell, the founding principal of Excelsior High School.
LEICESTER, England (AP):The most remarkable Premier League story in years shows no sign of ending. After only narrowly avoiding relegation last campaign, Leicester (35 points) lead the heavyweights (Arsenal, 33, Manchester City, 32, Manchester United, 32) of England by at least two points nearly halfway through this season.Jamie Vardy (34th) and Riyad Mahrez (48th) scored for Leicester, while Loic Remy reduced the deficit close to time.”It’s magical,” said Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri, who used to coach Chelsea. “I don’t want to wake up.”Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho turned on his players after the team’s latest loss in their dreadful English Premier League title defence, saying yesterday he felt “betrayed” and accusing them of not trying their best.”If I was a player, I’d be giving a lot more,” Mourinho said after a 2-1 loss that left Chelsea (15) one point off the relegation zone after 16 games.Chelsea, which won the Premier League by eight points and with three games to spare last season, have lost nine games so far and are 20 points off the lead.”All last season I did a phenomenal work and I brought them to a level that is not their level, it is more than they really are,” said Mourinho, who appeared at a loss to explain Chelsea’s regression.”I feel my work was betrayed,” he added, as he criticised the defending for Leicester’s goals.Asked if Chelsea can still qualify for the Champions League, Mourinho said: “We can’t finish top four, but we can still finish top six because so many teams are dropping points. But at the moment we’re in a zone where I feel ashamed.”Even before the Leicester loss, Mourinho acknowledged he is in the toughest spell of his managerial career.”The only thing I can say is that I want to be the manager,” Mourinho said. “I have no doubts and I think you know me well enough to know that I am not afraid of a big challenge and in this moment it is a really big challenge.”I want to stay and I hope (Chelsea owner) Mr. (Roman) Abramovich and the board want me to stay.”Champions League drawMeanwhile, the Champions League draw produced some familiar pairings yesterday with defending champion Barcelona facing Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain again taking on Chelsea.Barcelona eliminated Arsenal in the 2010 quarterfinals and in the round of 16 in 2011 and beat the English club in the 2006 final.Arsenal will host the five-time champions on February 23 after advancing to the knockout round for the 16th straight season. The Gunners will be hoping to end a five-year losing streak at the round-of-16 stage.French champions PSG and Chelsea will be meeting for the third consecutive season in the knockout phase. Chelsea won in the quarter-finals in 2014, but PSG advanced from the round of 16 last season.Also, five-time champions Bayern Munich will play away first against 2015 runner-ups Juventus, while record 10-time champions Real Madrid will face Roma.Still, there was one fresh look in the eight pairings as the two newcomers to the knockout rounds were drawn together: Gent will host Wolfsburg first in Belgium.Also, it was: PSV Eindhoven vs Atletico Madrid; Dynamo Kiev vs Manchester City; and Benfica vs Zenit St. Petersburg. City’s first leg in Kiev will be played in an empty stadium because Dynamo has been sanctioned by UEFA for racist incidents involving fans.The first legs will be played on Feb. 16-17 and 23-24, with the second legs scheduled for March 8-9 and 15-16.
Sprinters Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce were on Friday night presented with the 2015 RJR Sports Foundation National Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year awards at the Jamaica Pegasus. Bolt was winning his sixth Sportsman of the Year award, after copping titles in 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013, while Fraser-Pryce, who also won in 2012 and 2013, was winning her third Sportswoman of the year award. “I want to thank my fans, who supported me this season, I really needed it. I want to thank my coach, I put him through a lot of stress, he has stood by me this season … I want to thank God and I promise I will try to do my best this season,” said a grateful Bolt. Fraser-Pryce, who won gold medals in the 100m and 4x100m at last year’s World Championships in Beijing, China, as well as the Diamond League 100m title, was also presented with the Sagicor Iconic award. The sprinter has won two Olympic gold medals and seven at the World Championships level since her ‘arrival’ at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. “Everything I have done is attributed to how much God has blessed me,” said Fraser-Pryce. “I am honoured to be here collecting this award a third time. I want to thank my coach for believing in me and putting up with me; and for me putting up with him sometimes.” Bolt’s award, which now puts him second in the all – time list behind boxer Michael McCallum (7) came after another dominant season by the powerful sprinter, who won three gold medals at the World Championships (100m, 200m and 4x100m). World Championships 100m hurdles gold medal winner Danielle Williams was the runner-up to the Sportswoman of the year, with shot put bronze medal winner O’Dayne Richards took home the male equivalent. The first award of the evening went to veteran quarter-miler and cancer survivor Novlene Williams-Mills, who was presented with the Chairman’s award. The People’s Choice Award for ‘Performance of the Year’ went to Jamaica’s senior women’s 4x400m relay team, which won gold at the World Championships, while former Netball Jamaica president Marva Bernard received the Lifetime Achievement Award.
PUNTERS hunting quick-fire bankers on today’s 11-race card at Caymanas Park should be wary of the two obvious choices – FORTUNEONEHUNDRED in the 1000-metre round opening event and RAISING THE BAR in the nightcap at 1100 metres.FORTUNEONEHUNDRED has not trained on the track since turning for home with a two-length lead in the Diamond Mile on December 5. Tumbling to $550,000 claiming from grade one, where he campaigned most of last year, suggests something has gone amiss in the last 70 days since the talented United States-bred last raced.Even on an off day, FORTUNEONEHUNDRED should easily put away his six rivals, especially at the minimum distance. However, punters are advised to tread carefully in the opening event by backing up their bets with sound horses such as DWAYNE STAR, ITALIANO and speedy COME DANCE WITH ME.Similar to FORTUNEONEHUNDRED, RAISING THE BAR has taken a shocking drop in class from non-winners-of-four to the second-lowest claiming level, a $250,000 tag.It should be noted that RAISING THE BAR, a renowned speedster, has been slowly into stride in his two races this year. First, it was January 9 at 1500 metres, followed by January 31 at 1000 metres straight.In neither of those races did the four-year-old filly recover, even briefly, to show some speed. In addition, she has been sparingly trained, which makes her suspect against horses who she should easily put away.Options to RAISING THE BAR are consistent INFANTRY OFFICER and CLASSICAL TRAIN, who’s hunting a double, carrying 48.0 kilos, but up in class.HOWARD PHILLIPPS MEMORIALMeanwhile, ACTION MAN should prove too quick for his eight rivals in the 1100-metre Howard Phillipps Memorial.Omar Walker partners ACTION MAN, who heads the scale at 56.0 kilos. However, the four-year-old colt is not too heavy to take charge of the event coming off the final turn.Included in the nine-horse field are five fillies, none of whom can match ACTION MAN for speed. His other three rivals, two geldings and a colt, have neither the form nor speed to deny him following his strong third-place run behind DWAYNE STAR at 1000 metres straight on January 31.Partnered by apprentice Bebeto Harvey last time out, ACTION MAN disputed the lead with LEGAL ACCOUNT from the start before DWAYNE STAR closed in mid-track to overhaul both a half furlong out.DWAYNE STAR had reported for that race with solid runs under his girth, finishing no more than five lengths behind winners such as LONG RUNNING TRAIN, TARANIS, ROYAL ASSAULT and BRAWN in four consecutive races.The filly DINNER BY SEVEN has some speed, but was well beaten by ACTION MAN in their last three meetings.The two expected closers, COMMANDING AVIATOR and TURBO MACHINE CAT, are recent graduates to non-winners-of-three, having both beaten non-winners-of-two in the last two weeks.
In a culture that believes that talent reigns supreme, the value of good playing surfaces is sometimes underestimated. Recently, government embarked on a programme to improve the quality of high-school playing fields. Something similar is needed for football and cricket fields if players are to properly learn the skills they need. Bumpy fields make it impossible for them to control the ball and pass it at the required level of proficiency. Perhaps, in exchange for a tax concession, companies involved in landscaping could be invited to help in this area. The target would be to renovate at least one football field per parish each year and provide the expertise and staff to do the maintenance. The next critical element is the establishment of a national playing philosophy. Our biggest asset is sprint speed, and a style that embraces that asset may well suit Jamaica best. This may run at odds with our love of Brazilian and Barcelona football, but beauty can have many faces. Whatever style we choose, it should become the template for all of Jamaica’s national teams. That would allow newcomers to the senior team to fit in seamlessly. Once this choice is made, choosing players from the diaspora will be much easier because the selector will be looking not just for good players, but for those who will fit. The wholesale elimination of players from the diaspora could also eliminate the exposure they have received elsewhere. Lest we forget, Paul Hall, Fitzroy Simpson and Deon Burton, all based in England, boosted Jamaica’s drive to qualify for the 1998 World Cup with their competitiveness, professionalism and skills. The door should never close on such an input. The same logic applies to home-grown players who ply their trade abroad. Instead, an overall programme of work should be undertaken to improve Jamaica’s football. Better- coached players on better fields working together within a playing philosophy that suits Jamaica, will work much better. It will take time, but it needs to start now. – Hubert Lawrence has made notes at trackside since 1980. Talent reigns supreme Picking a national squad solely of local players isn’t going to save Jamaican football. The issues facing us on that field of play are too wide-ranging for that. The football fraternity will have to look itself in the eye and build a structure that produces quality play. That will take time. Pegging success to qualifying for the 2022 World Cup may be a mistake, too, as it may force the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) to rush or overlook key elements in the development process. To be fair, some work has started with the certification of many more coaches in recent years. The requirement that coaches must have FIFA certification to train high-school teams is a plus. The pay-off is better-equipped players in the future. Those who organise preparatory and primary- school football might be well advised to adopt similar regulations. Such a move would ensure that aspiring players adopt good technical habits early in their acquaintance with the game. As we all know, bad habits can be really hard to break.
The fourth Digicel Cup Inter-Schools Sporting Clays Tournament shoots off on Sunday at the Jamaica Skeet Club in Portmore with the highest number of competitors to date. As many as 78 shooters drawn from nine schools across the island, including Manchester High, Jamaica College, Campion College, Wolmer’s, Hillel Academy, the American International School of Kingston (AISK), and Sts Peter & Paul Prep. The beginners, or youngest shooters, starting from age nine, will take to the 14-station course at 9 a.m. after which the official opening ceremony will be held. The tournament features 50 targets for all shooters. The top six shooters will compete in the Super Six for the highest overall total and the championship trophy. The Super Six will involve 18 targets. (The super six comprises the six highest scores at the end of the regular stage). A new champion will be crowned this year as Jake Therrien will not be defending his title. According to Khaleel Azan, president of the Jamaica Skeet Club, “it is great to see the increased number of shooters who have registered for the tournament, which has grown significantly since it started in 2013. This year, we have seen a big increase in the female shooters, moving up to 12 from seven last year. All the shooters are well prepared for this year’s Digicel Cup, having competed in several tournaments leading up to this competition. We are expecting a big crowd, including families and friends of the shooters.” Azan also said that the large field augurs well for the sport in Jamaica as the future is secure, with a very good crop of young shooters coming through. The sponsors are Digicel, Wata, Reggae Jammins, Best Dressed Chicken, True Juice, Hawkeye, St Mary’s Banana, Bigga, Tin Grinners Club Jamaica, and Arts & Photo Impressions.
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC):Two-time reigning champions Guyana Jaguars will launch the defence of their regional four-day title when the WICB’s Professional Cricket League bowls off across the region with the opening round starting today.Jaguars take on Jamaica Scorpions at the Guyana National Stadium in a morning start, confident of making a winning start and setting the tone for another title-winning campaign.And even though the hosts have been successful against their opponents in their last four outings, skipper Leon Johnson said they were taking nothing for granted.”I think our chances of defending our title this season are very good. Of the 13 players that have been selected, 11 have been with us for the last two seasons and make up the core of our team, so those players have gained a lot of experience and were previously experienced,” the Test opener said.”Recently, we’ve been having the better of the Scorpions, but traditionally, Jamaica have always performed well at the regional level. We’re all starting back at zero points. Everybody starts the same this season, so we just have to go out and play good cricket.”Scorpions, meanwhile, finished third last year, and new captain Nikita Miller said he was confident his side could improve on that finish. He also said that Scorpions would not be intimidated by facing the reigning champions.”I think we have improved a lot as a unit from last year. A few guys have moved on … but in terms of the batting unit, and on the whole, I think we have improved, and I hope that can manifest itself in our play this coming season and enhance our chances of finishing higher,” said the seasoned campaigner.In another morning fixture, Leeward Islands Hurricanes host Barbados Pride at Warner Park, with newly-installed skipper Kieran Powell attempting to prevent the 10th straight defeat at the hands of the powerhouses.”Obviously, it is important to break any losing streak, but we are quietly confident going into this season,” Powell said.While Hurricanes finished bottom of the table last year, Pride were second, just seven points off the winners, and captain Kevin Stoute said they were focused on being consistent again.”We’ve been playing consistent throughout the last couple of years. Sometimes, at the end of the day, you need the luck going with you as well as it doesn’t always work out that you come out on top in every game you play,” the all-rounder noted.The day/night game of the round, which bowls off at 3 p.m., will see Trinidad and Tobago Red Force hosting Windward Islands Volcanoes, hoping to end a run of three defeats to the visitors at Queen’s Park Oval.Volcanoes, who have won five of their last seven outings against Red Force, finished one from bottom last season, and long-time skipper Liam Sebastien said a strong start would be important to a successful campaign.”I think what is important is that we get off to a winning start. Yes, we have been doing well against Trinidad over the last couple of years, but it’s a new tournament, a new game, a new season, as well as a day/night fixture,” he pointed out.