Sport

JAAA signs MOU with S'Africans

Parties to benefit from respective areas of expertise

BY HOWARD WALKER Observer Senior Reporter walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, September 19, 2012    

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AN 11-member South African delegation is currently in the island to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Jamaica Athletics Administration Association (JAAA) - a move that would benefit both countries' track and field programme.

With the Caribbean dominating the sprints and Africa traditionally middle and long distance rulers, it is little wonder the parties are seeking an exchange programme that is beneficial to both.

Lanale Ludid, leader of the delegation and chairperson of sports recreation portfolio committee, pointed out that South Africa's choice of Jamaica for the exchange programme is not because of the island's recent success at the Olympics, but something was in the pipeline years ago.

"It's not just that we are here now; we were sealing that Memorandum of Understanding for the relationship that has long been there," said Ludid.

"This portfolio committee... we are looking around and it's not because of the Olympics, we planned this trip two years back. The results of the Olympics are a confirmation of us coming here," she added.

With South African looking to improve in the sprints, Jamaica's aim is to get quality middle-distance coaches in the island to extend its range beyond the sprints.

Dr Warren Blake, president of the JAAA, said a fixed time for the exchange programme has not yet been finalised, but is being worked on.

"We really want to cement the relationship between Jamaica and South Africa in the field of sporting endeavours and it goes a little beyond the narrow ambit of track and field, whereas track and field is our main focus and we would like to benefit from their expertise in middle-distance running," said Dr Blake.

"We also can benefit from their sports science because they are far ahead of Jamaica and they have one of the best universities in Pretoria... a world-renown university where the first heart transplant took place in the world," said Blake, an orthopaedic specialist by profession.

"People have been thinking of South Africa as a Third World country. Well, they are not. They have major pockets of excellence that we can benefit from," said the JAAA president who will seek re-election at November's Annual Voting General Meeting.

Outside of South Africa, the JAAA is also in discussions with Kenya and Dr Blake was quoted as saying that an agreement in principle has been reached between Jamaica and the middle- and long-distance giants following talks with the head of Kenya's Athletic Federation, Isaiah Kiplagat.

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