Sports in Jamaica have always been a way of life for Jamaicans.
While sports is a pass time for many, it’s an opportunity
for our young athletes to capitalize on getting a good education and command an earning power like no other career can offer in a short period of time. Many people support Jamaican athletes success and cheer them on probably because Jamaica is a small country competing against countries that are much larger or it could be that people like to associate themselves with winners. In fact, because Jamaica and other Caribbean islands are so small, in certain sports, teams are formed by combining the best players from each Caribbean island to represent the whole region as the West Indies. Cricket happen to be one of the sport that each island have there individual team as well as a West Indies Team that represent all the islands.
In the competitive world, the success of Jamaican athletes is often describe as athletes with big heart and the will to win. Therefore, when you add the international fame and fortune that goes hand in hand with the athletes success, Jamaican athletes are looking to take advantage of their once in a life time opportunity. The country’s motto says, “Wi likkle but wi tala wah (we are small but we are strong).” As a result, you take the imbedded confidence level of the athletes and combine it with their economical circumstances plus Jamaica’s rich history and you are looking at an island that believes they can conqueror the world. Jamaica plays many sports such as cricket, football (soccer), track and fields, netball, basketball, rugby, tennis, golf and boxing.
Cricket in Jamaica
Cricket is one of the leading sports in Jamaica and the West Indies. The sport was introduce to the West Indies from
Colonial days under British rule. Cricket is similar to baseball in terms of what is needed to play the game such as a bat and a ball but the rules are quite different. Cricket was once the number one dominant pass time sports played, watched and debated across Jamaica and the West Indies. Today cricket must share the spotlight with other sport that are attracting the generation of the 21st century such as golf, football (soccer), basketball and tennis.
Cricket is played internationally by both men and women. Some of the more famous men cricketers from Jamaica include George Headley, Courtney Walsh, Wavell Hinds and Chris Gayle. Some of the West Indies most famous players include Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Viv Richards and Brian Lara. Sabina Park in Kingston, Jamaica remained one of the better known cricket ground in the world of cricket.
The West Indian Women Cricket team represents theWest Indieson the international stage but the Jamaican women cricket team no longer competes internationally. The love of cricket remains strong although some people see the rules as outdated with test matches lasting five days others can’t get enough. However, with cricket matches lasting five days, the popularity in attracting today’s generation is said to be difficult in a faster pace world where people wants everything now.
In Jamaica, especially in the country areas away from the city children can be seen playing cricket using a bat made from the stem of a coconut tree branch and a young green sour grapefruit or young orange for the ball as they are still harden. The love children have for the game of cricket has brought out their creativity when you are less privilege. However, in the city areas, you can enjoy a cricket match with players using official bats and balls and playing on a cricket field. The European visitors to Jamaica and many other countries enjoys cricket as their local game. Cricket is not widely recognized in the United States but it is played mostly by immigrants living in the country.
Jamaican Football (soccer)
Football is very popular in Jamaica. The game is played all around the island. As you travel to different parishes, you will
see people playing on the streets, on the beaches, in the parks, in the school leagues and on a professional level. As a proud country with dominating aspirations, the next and ultimate goal for Jamaica’s professional football team is to keep improving in order to win the FIFA (Federal International Football Association) World Cup championship. The professional team was on track in 1998 as they became the first English speaking country from the Caribbean to qualify for the world cup final in France. At the world cup, they lost two of their three games and had a 2-1 victory over Japan. The love for football in Jamaica should remain strong, it has being a part of the culture since the later 19th century.
Track & Field
Over the years, Jamaican athletes have had major success in Track & Fields. Some have said it’s a natural part of the athletes genetics or so they think. One of Jamaica’s singers of the past “Lincoln Sugar Minott” had a song called Sufferers Choice where he describe certain living conditions and another singer “Bob Marley” in the song Talking Bluessaid “cold ground was my bed last night and rock was my pillow.” Many of Jamaican athletes way of life and circumstances are the driving forces behind their success as describe in the songs. Athletes are bless with god given physical talent to achieve certain level of success but to be the best requires practice, determination and the willingness to master your craft.
In doing so, athletes must be willing to sacrifice their everyday lifestyle and train. They must be coach able, ready to listen and learn certain techniques to gain an edge on their opponents. Many successful athletes carried over the same discipline growing up, when their parents and/or grand-parents send them on an errand and told them, “Nu mek mi spit, an it dry up before yu cum bak” (don’t let me spit and it dries before you come back). So generally, track and field starts at home and developed in schools. Now over the years, Jamaican track and field athletes have continued to receive a significant amount of success.
Each year, the top athletes from the local schools track team get an opportunity to showcase their talent at the National Stadium in Kingston. These track and field events are attended by colleges and universities from around the world looking to recruit their next Olympic gold medal winner. These athletes have accepted the challenges over the years knowing their success can be life changers. Jamaica has being competing internationally in track and field since the 1930s. There success came immediately with Joseph Mackenzie winning a silver medal in high jump during the Central American and Caribbean Games and Bernard Leopold Prendergast winning bronze in the discus throw in the British Empire Games before the name was changed to the Commonwealth games.
The first Jamaican athlete to compete in the Olympic was Bernard Prendergast , he did so for the British in 1936. That same year,Jamaica created the Jamaica Olympic Association led by Mr. Norman Manley and Mr. G.M. DaCosta became the first president. Jamaica was now in a position to compete in the Olympic Games. After World War 2, Jamaica impress the world in tract & field. Jamaica’s very first Olympic appearance in London in 1948 saw Arthur Wint winning a gold medal in the 400 meter and his fellow Jamaican Herb McKenley came in second and won a silver medal. Arthur Wint followed up his gold medal performance by winning silver in the 800 meter race. Jamaica was well on its way to winning a third medal in the 4 x 400 meter men’s relay before Mr. Wint pulled a muscle. However, the world took notice and realized that Jamaica could not be taken lightly.
Jamaica continued there winning ways by winning medals in Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s right up to 2008 Olympic in Beijing. Jamaica is preparing to keep the rich winning tradition in London 2012 Olympic. During those past decades, some great athletes rose to the winning occasion for Jamaica, athletes such as Donald Quarrie, Merlene Ottey, who holds the record for the most Olympic appearance at seven and have being called “Queen of the Track.” Veronica Campbell-Brown, Asafa Powell , Usain Bolt world record and Olympic record holder in the 100 m and 200 m., along with many more athletes.
Because of Jamaica’s great success over the years in track & field, the world is aware that Jamaica is one of the countries to beat but it’s still amazing that a country of that size can do so well. Jamaican Sport Info.
Netballis the most popular women’s sport in Jamaica. Jamaica has being playing netball since 1909 and started competing on the national stage in 1959. Jamaica’s National Team is the Sunshine Girls. Netball has being dominated by Australia and New Zealand. However, Jamaica has competed well in World Championship competition where they have manage to
win third place bronze medals three times. Each competition has an average of twenty teams competing. The Sunshine Girls has won silver and bronze in World Netball Series Tournament and bronze in the Netball at the Commonwealth Games. As of July 2011, Jamaica Sunshine Girls rank fourth in the world and have earned their respect in the Netball world.
Basketball was introduced to Jamaica in the 1940s but was not embrace by the majority of people. The sports hung
around for a while and gain some momentum in the early 1960s. In the early 1970s basketball continued to grow and more teams were formed. By the mid 1970s, a national team was formed. The Jamaica team competed against other country’s national teams as well as colleges and universities representing foreign countries. In the 1980s, Jamaica started to established themselves and started winning some tournaments. Part of the big changes in Jamaica’s success was the result of Jamaican born players who were playing in foreign countries and returning to Jamaica and helping their country to compete. Jamaica National Basketball Team represents Jamaica in the international games and has been enjoying more success. Jamaican Players who have made it to the NBA includes Patrick Ewing, Rumeal Robinson, Samardo Samuels, Wayne Sappleton, Gary Voce and Jerome Jordan.
The women basketball teams have being competing well and still growing. The Women athletes are benefiting in their exposure and gaining scholarships to universities across the world. Additionally, a few players have played professionally on teams in league stretch across the country. The most successful woman player to date is Simone Edwards who played for Seattle Storm and won a championship in the WNBA.
Field Hockey is played in Jamaica by both boys and girls. Jamaica has being developing this game and competing on the international stage. While it’s not very popular in Jamaica, it is growing and resulting in the country starting to play hockey using inline skates. If it’s one thing we know about Jamaica, they are a country that’s filled with confidence and believe they can compete in any arena if given the chance.
Baseball was not a regular sport in Jamaica but a few players were able to close the gap from using a cricket bat and transfer that skill to the baseball field. In doing so, those players were able to take their game to the highest level and play Major League Baseball in the US. Players such as Chili Davis, Rolando Roomes, Devon White and Justin Masterson. Baseball has being growing slowly in Jamaica as plans are being put in place to develop the game to attract a larger audience.
Boxing in Jamaica has been attracting fighters since the Constitution of the Jamaica Boxing Association was drafted by Mr. Norman Manley in 1929. In fact, the General Secretary of Jamaica Boxing Board of Control (JBBC) Mr. Leroy Brown who is a Jamaican and the only Caribbean boxing official with this qualification is rank among the second highest boxing officials in the world as recent as March 2012. Mr. Brown is license by the International Boxing Association (AIBA) and can officiate in any boxing tournament worldwide. He has officiated as boxing judge in the Pan American Games, Commonwealth Games, the Olympic Games, and International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) World Championship matches. Mr. Brown was chosen by the AIBA as one of the International Technical Officials at the Asian Olympic Qualifying tournament in April 2012.
The prestigious position Mr. Leroy Brown holds in boxing is a true testament of Jamaica’s History in the sport. Jamaica has managed to produce some great boxers in the world as well as linked to some great boxers in boxing history such as former World Boxing Championship Mike McCallum who has won titles in three different weight classes. His nickname is the “body snatcher” and he was considered a tactician because of his precise hitting. Mike McCallum was inducted into International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2003. The list of Jamaican Boxers continues with names such as Trevor Berbick, Richard “Shrimpy” Clarke, Glen Johnson, Lloyd Honeyham and Donovan Ruddock and Simon Brown.
Many British and Canadian Boxers with Jamaican parentage including Lennox Lewis, Frank Bruno, Michael Bentt, Alex Stewart, more. Boxing continues to be very popular in Jamaica. The country is set to invest financially into the sport as the audiences keeps growing. Visitors on vacation may take in a Monday night boxing match.
Golf in Jamaica
The Jamaican Golf Association was formed since 1925 to promote golf in Jamaica. Jamaica has several world class golf courses and host many championship tournaments. There are at least twelve courses on the island ranging from difficult to beginners. With help from the government to popularize the sport, the effort is paying off and more Jamaicans are learning and playing golf. Many of the all-inclusive resorts are associated with several golf courses. There are independent courses not link to any hotels which are available to schedule golf matches. And, if you are not staying at an all-inclusive resort, you can still arrange to play golf at an all-inclusive course if it is your wish. The golf courses in Jamaica are used mainly by visitors but the growth potential for the people of Jamaica is getting better.
Tennis is a popular sport in Jamaica even though it is only played in selected schools. The governing body of tennis in Jamaica that is sanction by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) is Tennis Jamaica. The Tennis Jamaica organization
helps to develop Jamaican youths in becoming confident leaders. The program is internationally recognized and offer educational opportunities to their students in terms of getting scholarships. To date, Doug Burke and Dustin Brown are two Jamaicans to have played in National Championship quarter final matches with Brown been German Jamaican. Still many resorts offer tennis courts for the tennis lovers while visiting Jamaica. Dustin’s career can be describe as Determination and the support from his parents as written in the NY Times.
Rugby has been played in Jamaica for a while but the Jamaica National Rugby League Association only came about in 2004 and started playing locally in 2005. The Jamaican National Rugby League Team played there first international tournament and loss to the United States in 2009. The team got their first victory that same year against Canada. Jamaica’s young history playing rugby comes with there old history of top ranking ambition. The team tried out in 2011 to qualify for the 2013 Rugby League World Cup but they were unsuccessful. As the saying goes, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again.” We look forward to a bright future for Jamaican National Rugby League Team.
When you think of the island, one of the first things that come to mind is water. Jamaica have the beautiful beaches to complement there water sports. If you love to fish look no further, just arrange with your resort to schedule fishing trips on the Caribbean sea. Whether you love to Jet-ski, water-ski, sailing, para sailing and scuba dive Jamaica is the place. Get ready to go snorkeling and enjoy the beauty of the crystal clear Caribbean sea. There are trained professionals who are ready to take you on a tour to explore the sea. They will share Jamaica’s rich history with a smile and when you ask more questions, with a smile they will tell you, “No mon, no problem.”
- You: Chris Gayle’s return to West Indies squad stalled (nation.com.pk)