Western Bureau:Two down, one to go and that one is the Olivier Shield title, one that Omar Wedderburn, the St Elizabeth Technical (STETHS) head coach, wants desperately to complete a stunningly successful year.Having already stashed away the Ben Francis KO crown and the daCosta Cup title, STETHS now have a chance of winning a third title to cap what Wedderburn admits to be a fantastic campaign.”We are just enjoying ourselves; two titles with a really young team is an excellent achievement, but the work is not yet done. JC are a fine school with good talent and they want this as much as we do, but we hunger for it and that could make the difference,” Wedderburn said.STETHS will enter the Olivier Shield without their leading scorer Michael ‘Diddy’ Kerr.The prolific striker, with 29 goals to his name, has undergone surgery on a broken ankle, an injury he picked up in the daCosta Cup final against Dinthill. But Wedderburn is confident his unit can overcome that setback with a resounding victory.”Kerr will be missed, no question about that. But we have a squad of players that are all capable of delivering what is required. We definitely are going out there to win it for him as he has been a very important part of our success so far,” he said of his injured goalscorer.STETHS is seeking a second hold on the Olivier Shield, with their only lien so far coming in 1999 and with JC somewhat a familiar foe, having defeated STETHS for the crown in 2013, Wedderburn is eyeing payback.”Looking back to that year, it means they now have another chance to do it to us again, but we are not looking at it from that point of view. We are in this final to win,” he stated.
The recent group draw for the Copa Centennial coming up in June, which pits Jamaica in a preliminary group up against Mexico, Uruguay and Venezuela, has ignited pleasant memories of the Reggae Boyz sojourn in last year’s Copa America in Chile, where they narrowly lost all three games against top calibre teams Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, with the general consensus being that not only were they not disgraced, but they represented and performed quite well.There were, however, some fundamental mistakes made in that run at the Copa America, followed by their run in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, where they historically got to the final.However, the very next game they played after than run was the crucial first round World Cup qualifier at home against lowly Nicaragua. Three of our key players; Wes Morgan, Jobi McAnuff and Gareth McCleary were missing in action, injured and or fatigued. Jamaica went on to lose that game after going down 3-0 and were on the brink of World Cup elimination at the very first hurdle.This was absolutely poor and naive resource management by coach Winfred Schafer and the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF). World Cup qualifying must be the priority with every other game and or tournament serving as part of the preparation process.Schafer basically ran the players into the ground at the Copa and the Gold Cup and subsequently turned out a weakened and jaded team for the first round of World Cup qualifying. Older players such as Morgan and McAnuff were overused and overworked in those tournaments with conventional football wisdom suggesting that was gross mismanagement on the part of Schafer, as these were key players to the team’s success and should have been handled with ‘kids gloves’ and deployed instead in tip-top shape in the high priority World Cup qualifying assignments.local based playersI have long advocated for the systematic infusion of our best young local based players into the national senior set-up in order to create a wider pool of players overtime for exactly these types of circumstances.If that philosophy was pursued with conviction and the belief that there are qualities that local based players can bring to improve the senior team and the very best of players were being exposed and invested in over the past two or three years, those players would be better and more complete players today and better prepared for international duty.With the clear and present danger of fixture congestion and overwork issues with the overseas-based players, in addition to the understandable injury and fatigue concerns from the clubs of these players, Schafer really had no choice but to finally select a local core of players all be it very late in the proceedings. If, however, as I suspect he does not truly believe in the quality of the local players, then he will hardly deploy them as he should, which would leave us very much back at square one with himself and Captain Horace Burrell more than likely heading off to England to continue begging unwilling mediocre players to become a part of Jamaica’s player pool.It would be far better for the development of our football if Schafer, even if his hands were forced by circumstance, learns to value, respect and believe in the quality of the best of our local players. There is no doubt in my mind that as we venture into this crucial year of football, that we can get quality playing minutes from some players based right here in Jamaica.My understanding is that Schafer will be paid his overdue salaries in very short order and these are the crucial crossroads and the big decision moments in which he should earn every single dollar of that salary.
The trouble with the Usain Bolt comparisons that are flying around is that the tall man from Trelawny is a once-in-a-generation superstar. To confer comparable senior international success upon Akeem Bloomfield and Chris Taylor because they have exceeded Bolt’s high-school times is dangerous. It’s pressure that they don’t need. Both boys have given evidence that they are extra special and could go all the way. Bloomfield’s conversion from the shorter sprints to the 400m yielded a national junior record of 44.93 seconds at Boys and Girls’ Championships last year. Taylor is a marvel and has the World Youth gold medal to prove it. Though this little dynamo set his personal best of 45.27 seconds in the high altitude of Cali, Colombia, he is clearly capable of going faster. Theoretically, gold medals and world records aren’t out of the question in the future. Even so, the temptation to crown either one of them ‘the new Bolt’ must be resisted. It is borne of respect for the tall man and his 11 individual World/Olympics gold medals and five world records. Surely, it is too much to guarantee that anyone will fill Bolt’s shoes completely. Bad memory shrouds how good the tall man was in the 400 metres when he was 16 and in his last year at Champs for William Knibb Memorial High School in 2003. With insistent rain sprinkling down, he used his speed early on the very track where he had won the World Junior title the year before. He kept his foot on the gas until he realised that his prime rival, Jermaine Gonzales, had stopped. His time blasted the record from 46.22 to 45.35 seconds. A full effort might have broken the 45-second barrier. He hasn’t paid the 400m much attention since, and his personal best of 45.28 seconds shows it. Later in 2003, Bolt equalled Roy Martin’s world junior record of 20.13 seconds. He took sole ownership of that record at the 2004 Carifta Games by winning in 19.93 seconds at age 17. Even now, no other junior athlete has run the 200m faster than 20 seconds. More important than all that is the need for Kingston College and Calabar to continue to manage these two lads well. Neil Harrison, the KC coach, has strengthened Bloomfield and has avoided the 100 and 200 metres to avert the disasters of the past. Similarly, Michael Clarke, the Calabar guru, has kept Taylor clear of troubles. One thing is certain. Taylor must need some recovery time after his 10-race effort at Champs. Together with Jaheel Hyde and 2013 World Youth 400m champion, Bloomfield and Taylor give Jamaica bright hopes for this year’s World Junior Championships in the 400m, the 400-metre hurdles and the 4x400m. Some of them may even see action at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. – HUBERT LAWRENCE has made notes at track side since 1980.
Danielle Williams’ coach, Lennox Graham, has come in for praise from Dr Warren Blake, president of Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA), for the work he has done in preparing Danielle Williams to win sprint hurdles gold in Beijing, China, this past August.Graham is the head coach of the women’s programme at Johnson C. Smith University in the United States, where he coached Williams and her sister, Shermaine, as well as Leford Green. Prior to joining the university in the winter of 2007, Graham was a member of the Kingston College coaching staff that guided the school to six titles at the ISSA Boys and Girls Championships between 2001 and 2007.Graham was also a member of the Jamaican coaching staff at the World Championships, which allowed him the chance to work closely with the world champion hurdler.”We have recognised that he has been doing very good work in the specialist area of hurdling, and when you do good work you will be rewarded,” Dr Blake said Monday following a ceremony at The Queen’s School that was held in honour of Williams’ gold medal run.Graham’s talents have brought him tremendous success at Johnson C. Smith. Since his appointment there, Graham has transformed the JCSU track and field programme, having immediate impact at the collegiate and international levels.To Williams, who has trained under Graham for all of her collegiate career, during which she won many National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II titles, Graham is more than just an award-winning coach.”Coach Graham is a wonderful coach and a mentor. He literally takes his time with me to help fix things that need fixing and he is patient,” she said. “There are times when I don’t want to train, and he knows I don’t want to train, and he works with me and he works around me. He is really the man who is responsible for my successes. He has taken me from a mediocre athlete and turned me into a world-class athlete.”
SYDNEY, Australia (CMC): Successful former Australia captain, Steve Waugh, has blamed poor leadership and the lure of global Twenty20 tournaments for the demise of West Indies cricket. Speaking in Bangkok at a global forum for young leaders, the 50-year-old Waugh said the decline of West Indies cricket had been unfortunate, but was hopeful the region could rebound soon as world cricket needed a strong Windies side. “What has happened in the West Indies unfortunately in the last 10 years is that they have lacked leadership,” said Waugh, who led Australia in 57 of his 168 Tests before quitting international cricket 11 years ago. “A lot of their current players value, I guess, Twenty20 cricket and making money rather than representing the West Indies. “They need to get back that real sense of pride for playing for the West Indies. They have a great culture and tradition in cricket.” West Indies dominated world cricket in the late 1970s and 1980s, producing star studded teams under the astute leadership of legendary figures like Clive Lloyd and Sir Vivian Richards. However, West Indies have struggled over the last 20 years and are ranked eighth in Tests and ninth in one-day internationals. They missed out on qualification for the 2017 Champions Trophy because of their ranking, marking the first time they have failed to qualify for the ‘mini World Cup.’ Waugh told the forum that the Australia side which came to dominate world cricket following the Windies’ fall had been built on the model established by the successful Caribbean team. “They were the benchmark for cricket. That was what the Australian team’s success was based on, following the blueprint of what the West Indies cricket used to be and used to do. No shame in that,” Waugh explained. “They were too good for everyone. They were unbeaten for 15 years. Australia hadn’t beaten the West Indies for 22 years and I definitely followed their model and we tried to tweak it a bit to suit Australia’s way of cricket. “I would hate to see that lost because a poor West Indies cricket side really weakens world cricket; so I, for one, would love to see the West Indies strong again.”
BEIJING (AP):The IAAF is investigating the authenticity of a two-decade-old letter published in Chinese media that suggests state-sanctioned doping in the 1990s, and casts doubt on the longstanding world records set by Wang Junxia in the women’s 3,000m and 10,000m.Wang’s records could be annulled if the former Olympic and world champion has admitted to doping before setting the marks in 1993, the International Association of Athletics Federations said yesterday.Chinese website Tencent reported that Wang wrote a letter, signed by nine other members of coach Ma Junren’s training programme, in 1995, to journalist Zhao Yu, allegedly revealing that athletes were forced to take banned substances, and Ma injected athletes himself.”It’s all true that Coach Ma had beaten, verbally abused and mistreated us for years,” said the letter, dated March 28, 1995. “It’s also true that he had coaxed or forced us into using large quantities of banned drugs.INHUMANE TORTURES”His crimes must be revealed because we don’t want to see the same thing to happen to the next generation,” according to the letter. “Such inhumane tortures have brought us to the brink of a complete collapse.”The IAAF issued a statement on Friday saying it only became aware of the allegations when contacted by Chinese media, and has asked the Chinese Athletics Association to assist with an investigation to verify if the letter which is written in Chinese and which Zhao provided to Tencent this week – is genuine.”If an athlete has admitted that, at some time prior to achieving a world record, he had used or taken advantage of a substance or technique prohibited at that time, then, subject to the advice of the medical and anti-doping commission, such record will not continue to be regarded as a world record by the IAAF,” the statement said.In 2008, Wang denied doping in an interview with The Associated Press, ascribing her record times to her youth, health and a brutal training regimen.
clash in PortmoreAll eyes will be on the mega clash between co-leaders Right Stuff and Spit Fyah in the City of Kingston Cooperative Credit Union-sponsored Portmore Domino League. The match will be played in Right Stuff’s backyard, Gem Bar, in Waterford, beginning at 11 o’clock tomorrow morning.Both clubs are on 29 points apiece from eight games and a win for either team will see the victor ascending to the top of the standings.In other games, third-placed Exceptional International (25 points) travel to take on Soursop Tree; Naggo Head are at home against Unity Strikers at Naggo Head Bus Park; Fort International (25 points), joint third place, journey to play home team Chedwin Strikers; Spring Village welcome Correctional Services; Garveymeade host Felluchi Strikers at Garveymeade Sports Club; Highlight Strikers entertain Waterhouse at Christian Pen; while Memory Lane are at home against Masterpiece in Waterford.Cedar Grove’s Anthony Minott and Richard BryanINSPORTS St Catherine FA Masters Football League kicks offFifteen teams are down to compete in the inaugural Institute of Sports (INSPORTS) St Catherine Football Association Masters Football League, which was officially launched last Sunday at the Spanish Town Prison Oval.In games played last Sunday, Christian Ambassadors defeated Maxfield 3-1 and D.B. Basovak tagged Constant Spring 2-0.The competition is divided into three zones, as the top two teams, plus the two best runners-up will play in the quarter-finals.Cumberland, Racing shoot for KO titleThe final of the York Pharmacy-sponsored Portmore Division Two knockout football competition will be played between Cumberland and Racing United at the Cedar Grove Sports Complex tomorrow afternoon, beginning at 3 p.m.In semi-final action, Cumberland defeated Cedar Grove 2-1, while Racing’s win over Braeton United was a no-contest as the Gregory Park-based club ran out 4-1 winners.Interestingly, Braeton won the midseason crown.Mega domino big shotCedar Grove Estate FC have everything going for them now, a new Sports Complex and a vibrant community. Now, all they need is a football title. That could change on Sunday, March 13 as they take on arch-rivals Braeton United in the York Pharmacy-sponsored Portmore Division Two Football League. The venue for this match is yet to be decided.This is a repeat of this season’s midseason final and the game can swing either way. Braeton won the last meeting 2-1. In semi-final action, last Sunday Cedar Grove defeated Edgewater 1-0, while Braeton United clipped Cumberland 2-1.Ready, aim, fire!Juniors aim for shotgun gloryScores of junior competitors will come out tomorrow to take aim at top honours in the Shotgun Sporting Clay Event at the Jamaica Skeet Club in Portmore, St Catherine.The Skeet Club is located just off the Dyke Road in the proximity of the Portmore Toll Road. This is one of the various competitions for Jamaica SportsFeva 2016. Event though mainly Private High Schools such as Hillel Academy and AISK, just to name a few take part in team and individual contests, some athletes from Government-run schools are also down to compete.Organisers are urging fans to come and “witness perfect precision as our competitors aim with nerves of steel to reach as many targets as they can in our annual Clay Feva competition.”The event is driven by Mitsubishi Jamaica.Second round battle in ClarendonThree quarter-final spots are yet to be taken in the 2016 Clarendon Football Association (CFA)/Captain’s Bakery Major League football competition.Of the eight possible spots, Kemps Hill from Group One, Jamalco and New Bowens from Group Two and Sporting Central Academy from Group Three have secured berths. With a three-zone preliminary format, the top two are automatic qualifiers from each group, with the eight completed by two best third-placed teams.Tomorrow’s clash between Group One teams Comfort and York Town could unearth two more places. York Town, who are second behind Kemps Hill on 13 points, only need a draw against Comfort to secure an automatic berth. Comfort are so placed that a draw will not hurt their chances as they can still secure one of the best third-placed qualifying spots.Of the five qualifiers so far, defending champions Jamalco have been most impressive. The have 19 points from seven games, which also includes six wins and a draw.In their last game, away to Lionel Town, former Premier League striker Kimroy Davis scored in the 46th minute of play on his debut for Jamalco to hand them a 1-0 win and provide Jamalco’s sixth win.Technical Strikers lead Manchester Division OneFollowing three completed matches in the first round of the Jamalco-sponsored Manchester Division One, Technical Strikers are the clear leaders. They have mined maximum nine points from three games.Second are Starz Academy with seven points, compiled from two wins and a draw, with Los Perfectos on five points. Fourth is narrowly held on goal difference by Trinity, who have four points. In fact, the latter leads a quartet of teams that have also mined four points.Two of the three matches played earlier this week produced drawn results. Los Perfectos, aided by an own goal, ended 2-2 with Starz Academy, while 360 Degrees and Plowden drew 0-0. The third match saw Mandeville United outscoring Epping Forest 3-2 in an away encounter.For Mandeville United, Jordan Watson scored a double, but it was Richard Larmond’s brace aided by Marion Larmond’s lone strike which tilted the balance for the victors.New Reggae Boyz’ recruit from St ElizabethFootball in St Elizabeth appears to have been energised by news which emerged this week that a key player from one of its Major League teams has been drafted into the Winfried Schafer-coached men’s national senior football team training squad for 2018 World Cup.That player is Swayne Thomas, who has been creating waves throughout the parish ever since he was transferred from York FC in St Thomas in the January 2016 transfer window.So far he has scored eight goals for St Bess FC, transforming the campaign of the newcomers to the St Elizabeth Magnum Major League.St Bess did not make the midseason final two weekends ago, which was contested between Black Star FC and Real Treasure Beach. However, with two games to complete the return phase of the preliminary round, St Bess are nicely perched to make the semi-finals as they hold second place with 29 points.At this stage, they have packaged the best goalscoring statistics scoring 44 and conceding nine for a positive overwhelming difference of 35. This is 10 better than leaders Black Star.Semi-final fever in St Elizabeth Major LeagueThe jostling for semi-final spots in the St Elizabeth Magnum Major League could be intensified with this weekend’s playing of key contests involving the top five contenders.Black Star, who won the midseason final, have already booked their place, amassing 37 points. However, with four matches to complete the preliminary phase, the quartet of St Bess (29), Holland Police Youth Club (27) and Real Treasure Beach FC (25) and Appleton (17) can significantly advance their positions.Today’s matches: 1. Vineyard YC vs Newell United at Vineyard, 2. Real Treasure Beach FC vs Holland PYC at Treasure Beach Sports Park, 3. Super Action YC vs Haughton United at Holland. Match time is 3:30 p.m.Tomorrow’s matches: 1. Tafari Lions FC vs Appleton Estate FC at Lacovia at 1:30 p.m., 2. St Bess FC vs Black Star FC at Lacovia at 3:30 p.m.
Jamie Vardy: Four years ago, Vardy was playing for Fleetwood Town, a team outside the four professional leagues in England. Now he is a Premier League record breaker after scoring in 11 consecutive matches this season. He has spearheaded Leicester’s title charge with 22 goals and is now set to go to the European Championship with England. Shinji Okazaki: Japan’s third highest scorer with 48 goals in 100 appearances, Okazaki signed for Leicester in 2015 from German club Mainz. He has weighed in with some important goals, including an acrobatic strike as Leicester edged Newcastle 1-0 in March. Leonardo Ulloa: Bought from second-division team Brighton in 2014, his goal tally of 13 helped Leicester retain its Premier League status last season. His role has been reduced with the arrival of Okazaki this time around, but his decisive strike in the 1-0 win against Norwich in February could prove crucial to securing the title. MIDFIELDERS Kasper Schmeichel: The son of title-winning Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel, Kasper is a Denmark international who has played for Leicester since 2011, when the club was in England’s second division. He has 15 shutouts this season in the league. DEFENDERS Wes Morgan: The Leicester captain did not play in the Premier League until two years ago, at the age of 30. He has a powerful and combative style of defending and alongside Schmeichel has formed the core of a stubborn defence by playing every league match for Leicester so far. Robert Huth: One of the more recognisable names in the Leicester ranks, Huth has experience of winning the Premier League with Chelsea in 2005 and 2006, as well as 19 appearances for Germany. He partners Morgan in the centre of Leicester’s defence and is dominant aerially. LEICESTER, England (AP): They are the bargain-buys and cast-offs from bigger clubs now on the verge of becoming Premier League champions. Leicester play Manchester United on Sunday, one victory away from the title after being one of the favourites to be relegated at the start of the season. Here is a guide to some of the key players in a team seven points clear at the top of the Premier League with three games remaining: STRIKERS Danny Drinkwater: Incisive passing and tough tackling led to Drinkwater making his England debut last month. A former Manchester United trainee who could not break through at Old Trafford, he has flourished in central midfield at Leicester. N’Golo Kante: The club’s first signing last year from French team Caen when Claudio Ranieri was appointed manager, Kante has been one of the best midfielders in the league. Like Drinkwater, he made his international debut in March for France and scored. Riyad Mahrez: Mahrez was an unknown when he joined from French club Le Havre in January 2014. The Algeria winger is now officially England’s top player after being voted player of the year by his fellow professionals this month. While adding inventiveness and flair to Leicester’s attacking play, Mahrez has contributed 17 goals and 11 assists in the league campaign. GOALKEEPER
Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) took honours on the opening day of the Caribbean Pre-Cadet Table Tennis Championship, when they won the Under-13 Girls’ title at the National Indoor Sports Centre yesterday. The T&T team defeated Guyana 3-1 and then crushed hosts Jamaica 3-0 to capture the crown. Only three of the four teams competed in the Girls Under-13 section, as Barbados failed to field a team. Coach of T&T, Edwin Humphreys, said he was not sure of what to expect before arriving here for the tournament. However, with only Jamaica and Guyana in the Under-13 category, it resulted in a comfortable win for his girls. “Well, honestly, we weren’t sure of what to expect because some teams were out. And when we heard that it would be only Guyana and Jamaica to contest with in the Under-13 girls, the expectation was high,” Humphreys told The Gleaner. “It was the first day of competition, so we got to see all the other teams. I believe we are better in all categories, so it is very possible we could have a clean sweep of all titles. “We have to stay focused and execute what we’ve practised for the past months,” the T&T coach confidently said. Coach of Jamaica’s Under-11 girls team, Richard Davidson, said they are looking ahead to winning the final today, starting at noon. “I’m going into the final to win the title. The girls will do their best. We are planning to put a spike into Trinidad’s wheels,” Davidson said. Day Two of the championship will begin at 10 a.m. and scheduled to end at 6 p.m. Thursday will be a rest day and competition will resume on Friday with individual action. The sponsors include Jamaica Tourist Board, Cal’s Manufacturing, Hi-Lyte, Independence Park Ltd, Jamaica Olympic Association, Jamaica Urban Transit Company, Nestle Jamaica, Reggae Jammin, Seafreight, Shortwood Teachers’ College, Sports Development Foundation, Tenergy Sound System, Tropical Blue and Xsomo.
FOR THE FANS “They are the ones that fight for me, and every time I touch the field, they are the ones I want to play for because they motivate me. So this win is for the fans,” he said. Anderson was also happy to get off the mark for the season and he believes they are now a force to be reckoned with again. “Five straight (wins) is what I want, but the motivation from senior players has been good. With me and English back in, everything has been moving on the right track. We can’t do nothing wrong right now,” Anderson commented on the recent addition of himself and long-time club stalwart Irvino English to the squad. “We just have to work as one and fight as one. “I just want to kick it (scoring) off. I’m off the mark now, I’m back now,” he added. Both teams had the share of chances in the first half, with Anderson getting Waterhouse’s best opportunities and Mitchily Waul wasting two great chances to put Tivoli in front. “All the pressure that existed before Jermaine came in was lifted when he came in. He brought a level of leadership. Along with English and Weston Forrest, they have guided the youngsters and this is what we needed,” said Marvin Tate, Waterhouse’s coach. COMETH the hour, cometh the man. Jermaine ‘Tuffy’ Anderson, in his first full game for Waterhouse FC this season, scored the game’s only goal to give the struggling Drewsland club a 1-0 win over Tivoli Gardens FC in their Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) football game at Drewsland Mini Stadium yesterday. Tivoli played the last seven minutes with 10 players after Jermain ‘Teddy’ Johnson received a second yellow card. Anderson, who has had his off-field issues with the club before and during the season, had to leave the game after 35 minutes due to a clash of heads with Rosario Harriott in his first match last week. But after fluffing his lines on a couple chances in the first half and coming close on a few occasions in the second period, ‘Tuffy’ broke the deadlock 65 minutes into the contest when he turned home a pass from last week’s two-goal hero Rodave Murray from six yards. “This is my job (scoring goals) and I always come out and give my all for Waterhouse fans., These fans build me, they fight for me. When I score, I go and give the fans my heart because, trust me, even when I went on trial and made that team (overseas), those fans are still not like Waterhouse fans,” said Anderson.