Sport

Local basketball fuels Olympic dream

...Targets Paris 2024 to make debut

Friday, July 19, 2019

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The Jamaica Olympic Association has big plans for sports in Jamaica, one of which is to see most if not all of the sports that are played on the island being represented at the Olympic Games at some stage in the future.

The thrust for the 2020 Games in Tokyo, Japan, is to have participation in at least 10 sports, a part of the “10 in 20” dream.

But while they are not a part of the 10 in 20 Tokyo dream, the Jamaica Basketball Association (JABA) also has dreams of Olympic qualification and participation.

Not only do they have a dream, JABA also has a timeline for turning that dream into reality.

Speaking at the launch of the KFC Star Search Basketball and Life Skills Development Camp at G C Foster College on Monday, national head coach Rick Turner declared that the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024 was the target set for Jamaica to be represented in the sport of basketball.

“I think it is important to talk about your goals, to say them out loud, to let other people know what you want to do and where you want to go,” he declared.

“Wherever I have had the opportunity, I talk about it, I call it #Paris2024, that's where I want to be in 2024…in Paris with the Jamaica basketball team, as we get ready to play against the best in the world and hopefully bring a medal back to Jamaica,” Turner said to loud applause.

He told the young basketball players in the audience that they could be a part of that dream, but underscored the need for hard work to get there.

“Not everyone here is going to be able to go on that ride personally…that's five years away, there are some of you in this room, sitting in those bleachers that could be part of that group and the only way that happens is if you get on board and get serious about the game.”

JABA President Paulton Gordon also endorsed the sentiments of his head coach.

“As Rick indicated, our vision, our target, is Paris 2024 and I think we have enough ammunition here and in colleges and also in Europe. We have enough Jamaicans playing, in terms of the spread to gather and integrate a proper team to represent Jamaica in Paris Olympics 2024, so that's the dream. I want you to buy into that dream,” he told the audience at the launch.

Andrei Roper, brand manager of title sponsor of the Star Search Basketball and Life Skills Development Camp, KFC, came out in full support of the 2024 Olympic dream.

“Definitely, we see where in past years Jamaica has dominated the Caribbean championships. Some of the best players out of Jamaica who have gone on to play college ball and have gone on to play in professional leagues across the world, have come back to represent Jamaican and we have won the Caribbean championships.

“We have gone on to the next level and we have come somewhat close to qualifying for the Olympics but I don't think it's a dream, I think it's something that we can definitely make a reality, with buy in from more sponsors and more contribution to the developmental programmes and the coaching and even basketball at the school level, to try and get more of the best talent into the programme,” noted Roper.

The KFC executive was also confident that the Star Search Camp would be yet another successful one.

“It's going to be another successful camp this year and we know that we are going to see more top basketball talent coming out of Jamaica from this camp. We are going to see more scholarships; we may even see some players going on to the next level of basketball all because of the Star Search Camp and the great work of the coaches and the hard work of the Jamaica Basketball Association,” he stated emphatically.

— Dwayne Richards


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