PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC):Caribbean Football Union (CFU) president, Gordon Derrick, believes the Caribbean can rebound from the latest scandal to shake the region.Last May, the Caribbean was plunged into turmoil when CONCACAF president and FIFA vice-president, Caymanian Jeff Webb, was arrested and indicted by the United States on corruption charges.Former CONCACAF president, Trinidadian Jack Warner, who was also a FIFA vice-president, was also indicted by the US on similar charges and is currently fighting extradition.Derrick said despite this, Caribbean leaders still had a role to play in football governance.”I don’t think there is a black eye on the Caribbean per se, or that because these two (cases) happened back to back and, therefore, no one else can do it (lead). I think that would be unfair,” Derrick told an international news agency.”Yes, the confidence (in the Caribbean) will be down, but we are a proud people from a proud area, who have ability, who can govern and who are intelligent. So if someone from the Caribbean steps up, they will step up and do well.”Warner was at the centre of the first CONCACAF cash-for-votes scandal in 2011, and was forced to resign amidst corruption allegations.However, the US Department of Justice said it had continued to investigate Warner and subsequently named him – and Webb – as part of a 47-count indictment related to racketeering, wire fraud and money-laundering conspiracies.Twelve other football officials were named in the indictment, and Derrick was careful to stress that the scandals did not only centre around regional figures.”Not everybody in the Caribbean is tainted. If you look at this scandal, you look at who the big player is and what country did he come from?” the Antiguan reminded.”It is not just the Caribbean, it is throughout. Regardless of where you are … there are people who are not on the straight and narrow, that doesn’t mean everybody in that country is the same way.”
ONE thing guaranteed in Beijing at the World Championships is that Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce will win the women’s 100 metres title and give herself title number three after winning in Berlin in 2009 and in 2013 in Moscow.The ‘Pocket Rocket’ looks the safest bet in any track event for the gold medal in Beijing.When Fraser-Pryce won on both occasions, she sped to world-leading times, and with a season best of 10.74 seconds, she is expected to go much faster in Beijing, and we could see a sub 10.70 seconds from the world fastest female sprinter.Known for her bullet start, she has added another arsenal to her armoury, as her top-end speed has improved dramatically this season, and this is not good news for her rivals, including the United States duo of Tori Bowie and English Gardner, along with the Ivory Coast’s Murielle Ahoure and Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare.What is more frightening for her rivals is that Fraser-Pryce’s coach, Stephen Francis – a man who is hardly wrong – made a bold statement after his charge’s 10.74 clocking at the Paris Diamond League, that she can go much faster.imposing dismissalIn her last race on the circuit, what was very imposing was the way she dismissed the United States champion, Bowie, with ease in Stockholm to win easily, despite a less-than-impressive start.Jamaica will be hoping for more medals here as veteran Veronica Campbell-Brown, Sherone Simpson and Natasha Morrison, in her first major Championships, will be gunning for good results. Campbell-Brown, who was second in 2005 and first in 2007 in Osaka, will find it more difficult this time around to be among the medals, as she will need big improvements on her season-best 10.99 seconds.Despite Simpson’s season-best 10.95 seconds in winning the Senior Pan Am Games title in Toronto, Canada, she will also have her hands full, as this time was done on a really fast track. Several of the athletes who were close to her then have not run close to the times recorded in Canada.With Fraser-Pryce a cinch, it will be a dogfight for the other medals. The United States’ Bowie and Gardner, along with Ahoure and Okagbare, are expected to have a very keen battle.TOP THREE1 Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (WL)2 Blessing Okagbare3 Tori Bowie
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC):Out-of-favour Test batsman Narsingh Deonarine has signed on to play for Trinidad and Tobago Red Force in this year’s Professional Cricket League, in a swap deal that will see Nkrumah Bonner heading to Leeward Islands Hurricanes.The left-handed Deonarine, who scored over 500 runs last season representing Guyana Jaguars, declined a retainer contract with the Georgetown-based outfit and opted to enter the draft where he was selected by Hurricanes.Deonarine’s switch to Red Force was accommodated due to the fact that his wife is Trinidadian and playing for the Port of Spain franchise would allow him to spend more time with his family.The 32-year-old Deonarine will be a major asset to a Red Force side that struggled in last year’s competition and finished one from bottom in the six-team campaign.He was one of the catalysts behind Jaguars’ victory bid, stroking 514 runs at an average of 42 with two centuries. Deonarine can also bowl off spin and took 14 wickets last season.The PCL is set to bowl off in November.
Jamaican sprinters have beaten the 11-second benchmark of quality in the women’s 100 metres more than 200 times. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce brought the milestone within reach with her winning time of 10.76 seconds in the final of the recent World Championships. Then, steps later in the same race, Veronica Campbell-Brown hit the 200 mark for Jamaica. Thirty years and a few months after Merlene Ottey became the first Jamaican to break the 11-second barrier, Campbell-Brown crossed the line in fourth in the World Championships final with a time of 10.91 seconds. An eye blink later and Natasha Morrison’s personal best time of 10.96 seconds scored the 201st Jamaican sub-11. Before the curtain came down on high-class sprinting for 2015, Fraser-Pryce added times of 10.93 in Zurich and 10.98 in Padova to bump the Jamaican sub-11 total to 203. When Ottey registered Jamaica’s first sub-11, she sped to a national record when she clocked 10.92 seconds at the 1985 Mount San Antonio Relays in Walnut, California. She broke the barrier more often than any other sprinter and ran her 67th and last sub-11 in 2000. That was a time of 10.99 in Thessaloniki, Greece. Campbell-Brown, Fraser-Pryce, Kerron Stewart and Sherone Simpson are also major contributors to the Jamaica tally with 46, 37, 25 and 13 such 100-metre times, respectively. Morrison and Elaine Thompson broke 11 seconds for the first time this year. Juliet Cuthbert, Tayna Lawrence, Simone Facey and Bev McDonald are the other Jamaicans who have achieved the feat. Only the USA has more entries on this list, seen on www.alltime-athletics.com, with a total of 300.
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC):Twenty20 captain Darren Sammy has spoken of his disappointment at not being offered a retainer contract by the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB).The former Test captain was chopped from the 15-man list announced recently by the WICB for the period running from October 1 last year to September 30, 2016.”It’s the first time in the last seven or eight years that I’ve not been given a retainer by the WICB. It’s quite disappointing, but cricket has not been about Darren Sammy, it’s for the West Indian people,” Sammy was quoted as telling a Pakistan cricket website.”I am disappointed that I never received a contract from the WICB, but it’s not my decision. I’ve played the two limited-overs formats for West Indies on a regular basis and performed the role I was asked. It’s very disappointing, particularly as I am the Twenty20 captain, but life goes on.”Sammy has been a key figure in West Indies cricket over the last five years and played a significant role in leading the Caribbean side to the capture of the Twenty20 World Cup in Sri Lanka four years ago.He also captained the side in 30 of his 38 Tests before retiring two years ago after being sacked in favour of Denesh Ramdin.Sammy has continued to play the shorter formats, however, and was part of the one-day squad for the Cricket World Cup in Australia and New Zealand last February.The 32-year-old, who now campaigns extensively in the various domestic T20 leagues across the globe, said that he remained committed to representing West Indies in the shorter formats.”I guess they (WICB) are more focused on Test cricket, which I’ve retired from, but I’m fully committed to the one-day and Twenty20 format for West Indies if selected,” Sammy said.”Looking back, when I was growing up, I only dreamed of playing for West Indies, but now I can travel the world and play for so many different franchise teams.”He added: “I’ve had some fantastic times playing for West Indies. I enjoy playing for West Indies and it is still my number-one priority.
KINGSTON:Netball Jamaica is working to expand the Sunshine Open League to become an islandwide competition, which will unearth new talent from every parish across the country for the 2017 season.The league, which is sponsored by the Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS), currently comprises 72 teams that are primarily based in the Corporate Area.Dr Paula Daley-Morris, president of Netball Jamaica, who was speaking at the closing ceremony of the 2016 NJ/JNBS Sunshine Open League held at the National Indoor Sports Centre last Saturday, said: “Preparatory work undertaken by the organisation over the past three years will help to inform the new league structure to be implemented in 2017.”She explained that the organisation has been establishing parish associations and has been sensitising its members about the need to go this route. This is part of Netball Jamaica’s plan to really become a national body; to manage the sport across the country, and not only operate in Kingston and St Andrew.The new cross-country league structure is expected to facilitate a minimum of 20 teams from each parish in the three leagues organised by Netball Jamaica.”I am sure we’ll be able to find more teams. We will be running three leagues – major, minor and intermediate. Therefore, we will have enough leagues to be able to filter the talent across those leagues according to their ability levels,” Dr Daley-Morris emphasised.The University of the West Indies (UWI) Pelicans emerged the overall champions of the 2016 season of the Sunshine Open League after defeating the Molynes United ‘A’ team 30-19, while the University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech) Knights defeated SPEG ‘A’ 40-28 for the Group ‘B’ Consolation Open League title.Paulette Sterling, JN senior manager, strategy and special projects, said the 25-year-long support of the league by Jamaica National is one of its longest such partnerships with a sports entity.”Our management and employees continue to be passionate about netball and see positive opportunities for the players to hone their skills and perform with excellence in the game, as well as in their respective lives,” she said.
National senior men’s football team head coach, Winfried Schafer, says Reggae Boyz captain, Rodolph Austin, whose name was not in the 23-man squad released by the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) on Sunday, will be part of the team to face Costa Rica in back-to-back World Cup qualifiers on March 25 and 29. The German told The Gleaner yesterday evening that the midfielder, who recently signed for Danish club FC Copenhagen, was nursing an injury and was being treated by the club. However, he said he has spoken with the player who has assured him that he is fit and will make himself available. “These are two very important matches. We need all players that can play. Maybe he can play in the second match. We don’t know. He is coming, he tells us he is OK. I cannot tell you now (when he will arrive), today is Monday and Friday is the match. He has special (recovery) training (in Denmark) now. But we have all medical papers that we need and everything in Copenhagen comes to us,” he said. Although Schafer could not give a date of the Reggae Boyz captain’s arrival, he says he is expected in another day or two. “We talk today (Monday). We talk about him in Copenhagen and in the morning, he will come to us, or maybe he stays in Copenhagen another day. Maybe he comes for the second game,” he added. DISTANCE DIFFICULT Meanwhile, as the squad continues preparation, Sch‰fer argued that not seeing and communicating with his overseas-based players regularly makes his job more difficult. “One of the biggest problems I cannot watch my players or talk to him. I can’t watch my player here Sunday or Saturday and it’s very important to talk to the player and their coaches and managers. We play at a high level now and are one of the best teams in CONCACA,” Schafer said. “But the problem I have, I can’t see my players from outside Jamaica. That is one of the biggest problems for a coach. I see them one time a year and it’s very important I watch my players in Europe and MLS,” he reasoned. Jamaica Squad: Andre Blake, Je-Vaughn Watson, Kemar Lawrence, Adrian Mariappa, Michael Hector, Westley Morgan, Clayton Donaldson, Garath McCleary, Jobi McAnuff, Leo Williamson, Demar Phillips, Simon Dawkins, Alvas Powell, Jermaine Taylor, Darren Mattocks, Giles Barnes, Ryan Thompson, Allan Ottey, Andre Clennon, Dever Orgill, Andrew Vanzie, Vishunul Harris, and Shaven Sean-Paul.
APPEAL OF THE GAME CASTRIES, St Lucia: The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) has inked a new agreement with Digicel, marking an extension of the company’s long-running sponsorship of regional cricket. Under the terms, Digicel will now sponsor the women’s senior and Under-19 male teams, in addition to the men’s senior team which they have been funding for the past 12 years. With rising stars from respective units, like Carlos Brathwaite, Hayley Matthews and Shimron Hetmyer, having made a name for themselves on the global stage with their stunning world-beating performances at the World Cup, the next four years of partnership between Digicel and the WICB look brighter than ever. Another major part of Digicel’s new commitment to West Indies cricket will be the coaching clinics that will be developed across the Caribbean to find and nurture the cricket stars of the future, as well as a strong mix of branding and advertising at home games, activations, promotional opportunities and more access to the teams. And, for the first time ever, the Digicel logo will also have a presence on all West Indies team jerseys at ICC events. Digicel’s commitment will help the strategic growth of the WICB’s business and provide greater engagement for fans and benefits to Digicel customers. This includes the support of the longest format of the game (Test), the future of Test Cricket, and this will play out with the broadcasting of the Professional Cricket League (PCL) Regional 4-Day Competition, which is set to start later this year. “Our aim with all of our community and sponsorship initiatives is to support our customers and the things that they love and identify with most – and one of those things is cricket,” said John Delves, chief commercial officer, Digicel Group. “The game of cricket has a long and fascinating history in the Caribbean, uniting the people of the islands and the islands themselves through a shared passion and a competitive thrill. “The stunning recent successes of the men’s, women’s and U19 teams have once again broadened the appeal of the game and excited new audiences. We are delighted to be involved now with all of the WICB teams and particularly pleased to be partnering on the coaching clinics which will help to nurture future champions from the Caribbean,” he noted. Michael Muirhead, chief executive officer, WICB, pointed out that “as part of the WICB’s plan to expand its commercial business, a key component of this strategy was the renewal of the relationship with our long term and valued team sponsor. The new partnership meets a number of our strategic commercial goals and we are delighted to be continuing our long association with Digicel.” Muirhead continued: “Over the past 12 years, Digicel has demonstrated its love of the game of cricket and has helped to bring new excitement to our passionate fans. This new era sees an expanded level of support for all of our teams and a focus on growing the next wave of Caribbean cricket champions in all formats. “In addition, our commercial agency, Pitch International, has been key to this renewal of this new look partnership.”
ST GEORGE’S, Grenada (CMC): Grenada’s Prime minister, Dr Keith Mitchell, said he resigned as chairman of CARICOM’s sub-committee on cricket governance because he was angered by the behaviour of “a couple of our leaders in the region”. Prime Minister Mitchell did not call out the names of his regional counterparts, but accused them of undermining CARICOM’s position by making “divisive” public statements after agreements would have been reached at the heads-of-government level. In an interview with Grenada Sports, Prime Minister Mitchell said he has that suggested Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of St Vincent and the Grenadines take up the role. “I gave it up because I felt angered by the behaviour of a couple of our leaders in the region and the way they behaved when we took a decision, and I felt that they undermined the authority of the chairman of the sub-committee at the time, and therefore, I did not feel I could continue in that position,” the Grenadian leader explained. “I spoke to Ralph, and in fact, I sent a message to him because I hold that position of recognising his leadership seriously. So and I told him that I was going to issue a statement as the Prime Minister of Grenada, and he knows my position as a cricket lover.” In June, Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister, Gaston Browne, “categorically rejected” the call for the dissolution of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), putting him at odds with the Grenadian leader. “Today, I categorically reject the call for the dissolution of the West Indies Cricket Board and I do so in my capacity as chairman of the CARICOM Cricket Committee governing West Indies cricket,” Prime Minister Browne said to an audience that included WICB president Dave Cameron. “I believe firmly that to dissolve the West Indies Cricket Board would be to plunge West Indies cricket into further chaos and confusion,” Browne had said. Dr Mitchell has been at the forefront of spearheading efforts to restructure the WICB and has endorsed the recent Barriteau Report, which last year recommended “the immediate dissolution” of the embattled WICB. He stressed that if regional leaders refuse to speak with one voice the WICB would continue to operate without being made to account for their actions. “We have to speak with one voice. The problem is when you have some of us going in different directions, especially when we make decisions at CARICOM level and then one or two of us go off on our own and making opposite statements and claiming that we are not part of the decision,” Prime Minister Mitchell pointed out. “I think that becomes divisive and unhelpful, and it gives those who wish to continue to do as they want the opportunity to do so, and I think that’s unfortunate because the region is the one that is losing.” The Barriteau Report was commissioned by CARICOM, with agreement from the WICB, and authored by UWI Cave Hill Principal Professor Eudine Barriteau. The WICB rejected the findings. ‘CHAOS AND CONFUSION’
LONG-TIME SPONSOR In an article penned by sports reporter Andre Lowe, and carried by this newspaper, the Nike position is captured by the headline, “Long-time sponsor blocks Shelly-Ann’s MVP exit.” Lowe, lately a significant media figure on the track and field trail, quoting his sources, described the company as having threatened “to pull the plug on their multimillion-dollar deal”. Reference is made therein to Nike “initially giving their blessing to Fraser-Pryce’s move”. The sponsor is further reported to have “changed its position after Stephen Francis, MVP’s head coach and Fraser-Pryce’s long-time conditioner, expressed his preference that she remains with the University of Technology-based outfit”. Strangely enough, the focus is not on Nike and the moves in which the company engages itself to maintain its brand and market share. More importantly, it cannot be over emphasised that what MVP with Nike in tow, is deemed to be doing here is far removed from regular MVP practice. These guys do not bow. They have been resolute in these situations and have shown no prior indication to genuflect to athletes seeking their fortunes elsewhere. So many of their elites have hit the highway with or without coercion. In fact, in some instances, there has been a semblance of a ‘good riddance’ attitude when the question of defection is raised. The likes of elite medallists and a multiple world record holder have exited their ranks. Melaine Walker, Sherone Simpson, Asafa Powell, Kaliese Spencer, Natasha Morrison and Michael Fraser have said goodbye for one reason or another. Foster’s Fairplay remembers the California, USA-based Santa Monica Track Club, rippling with the best of the best athletes the country had to offer, the Carl Lewises and Leroy Burrells of the sport. Where is that outfit now? This must be weighing, with telling effect, on coach Francis’ mind. Can the group survive all this breaking in ranks? Is not the Fraser-Pryce farewell the proverbial last straw? From what Nike is reported to have done in an attempt to halt this slide, it certainly would appear that way. Email: [email protected] What is happening in this MVP/Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce imbroglio? So much is being played out in the public space that hitherto, all the parties in this intriguing back and forth would prefer to remain behind closed doors. There is no history in that or any other local sporting camp for that matter, where certain issues deemed to be secret and delicate are laid bare. Matters, once sacrosanct, are now open to public scrutiny and comment. As time elapses and persons are denied what they might think is rightfully theirs, much more revelations can be expected. The reports out of the Rio Olympics spoke to a cleavage in the relationship between the overpowering personality of Stephen Francis and Fraser-Pryce, who, by a long way, is the world-renowned super coach’s most highly celebrated female charge. It has led to a parting of ways. In her quest for an unprecedented trio of Olympic 100m gold medals, her streak had been halted by a bronze medal finish in Rio. The athlete has now sought a refreshed career under the tutelage of greenhorn in the coaching business, Renaldo ‘Journalist’ Walcott. His camp at St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) was enriching itself with some talented athletes. The plot gets thicker with a showdown of sorts looming, as the relevant parties are squaring off to protect their turf. Fraser-Pryce has been reported as setting up a residential facility in the rural parish to avoid what would be a stressful daily commute. MVP President Bruce James, her manager and close ally, given his own utterances when the saga saw its first light, is maintaining his usual silence but saying enough to suggest that his role as adviser is alive and kicking. Coach Francis, not normally given to allowing departing athletes a chance to rethink, is in this case leaving at least a window open for that eventuality. With this cementing of positions in progress, here comes the equipment sponsor, Nike, who has been aligned to Fraser-Pryce since she hit the global spotlight. They are not newcomers to the scene as they are immersed in the financial backing of the MVP Group as well.