CF Montreal coach Laurent Courtois has been delighted by the way his players have adapted to his methods this season, though he joked he would still swap any of them for Lionel Messi ahead of Saturday's clash with Inter Miami.

Montreal sit 11th in the Eastern Conference standings with 12 points from their first 10 league games under Courtois, 12 adrift of early pacesetters Miami. 

However, plenty of outside factors have impacted their start to the season, not least the fact they have played eight of their matches – including each of their first six – on the road.

Courtois is proud of the way his players have learned on the job, though he still believes there is more to come from them. 

"I keep telling them that I have no in-between. I'm either going to be your biggest fan, or really tough and really demanding. Because we don't have time to play. We don't have time to lose," he said.

"At the same time, I'm such a fan of what they've been doing, accepting the stuff that I've been asking them to do, while being on the road for three months. 

"I think they want to play soccer in the right way. I have a few codes that I think can be helpful. 

"We need together to come up with common ground to execute in this way. They're still far from what I think they can do."

However, Courtois does see one area for improvement ahead of Saturday's clash with the Herons, quipping: "I wouldn't change any of my players for any others – except Messi."

Miami trounced the New York Red Bulls 6-2 last week, with Messi scoring once and laying on five assists in an incredible performance. 

That display left coach Gerardo Martino in disbelief, as he said: "I always say this, and it's redundant at this point, but he always does something new. 

"To have an involvement in all six goals of a team's goals in a 6-2 is something that will be difficult to see again."

PLAYERS TO WATCH 

CF Montreal – Jonathan Sirois

Last week's 4-1 defeat at Nashville SC was the seventh time Montreal have conceded four or more goals in a regular-season MLS game since the start of 2023, more than any other team.

Only two MLS goalkeepers have faced more shots than Sirois (55) in 2024, though he has conceded 2.1 goals fewer than Opta's expected goals on target (xGoT) model suggests he should have. He will need a big performance against Messi and company.

Inter Miami – Lionel Messi

Messi has 10 goals and 12 assists in eight league matches this season. No player in MLS history had reached 10 goals and 10 assists in fewer than 16 appearances in a season before.

The Argentine has also reached 25 goal contributions in 14 MLS matches overall, seven fewer than any other player in MLS history required to bring up that figure.

MATCH PREDICTION – CF MONTREAL WIN

Montreal have won six of their nine all-time meetings with Miami (one draw, two defeats), including a 3-2 victory over the Herons on March 10. 

Only New York City FC (2.22) and the Chicago Fire (2.17) average more points per match against Miami than Montreal (2.11) among teams the Herons have faced five or more times.

While Montreal are winless in their last three league games, the last two of those were played on the road.

On home soil, they are a different proposition, going unbeaten through their last six games (two wins, four draws), including a win and a draw in their first two home matches of 2024. They have only lost three of their last 17 regular-season home games dating back to last April (10 wins, four draws).

Miami, despite their star quality, have been vulnerable this campaign, trailing in nine MLS games – a joint-high alongside the San Jose Earthquakes. They cannot keep relying on rescue acts.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

CF Montreal – 47.2%

Inter Miami – 25.7%

Draw – 27.1%

Gary Smith believes his Nashville side's thumping of CF Montreal last weekend is a step in the right direction as they look to build their "belief".

The 4-1 victory over Montreal, which saw striker Sam Surridge net a hat-trick, ended a run of five games without a win and moved Nashville up to 12th in the Eastern Conference.

As Nashville look to push further up the table when they travel to Charlotte FC this weekend, Smith is looking for his players to build on the Montreal performance.

"[The Montreal victory was] the first step in a long journey for us to get back to some rhythm, some success, put ourselves back in a position where there’s some belief here again that we can get results," Smith told reporters.

"We've seen we can score goals. I think that belief that we can win games again, this is the first step on that road.”

Charlotte also tasted victory last time out, beating the Portland Timbers 2-0 at home to leave them sixth in the East.

Midfielder Ashley Westwood hopes he and his team-mates can carry on the momentum from that triumph, saying: "It was a complete performance.

"During the game it felt comfortable. We felt like were in control with the ball and without the ball. We need to push on from that now."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Charlotte FC – Nikola Petkovic

Petkovic scored his first goal of the season against Portland, becoming one of 10 different players to score a goal for Charlotte this term, the most of any MLS team. Having netted his first of the campaign, he will be hungry for more this weekend.

Nashville – Hany Mukhtar

Mukhtar has scored four goals in four career regular season matches against Charlotte FC, one of five opponents he's scored at least four times against in his MLS career. Though Surridge got the plaudits last time out, Mukhtar may be the main goal threat against a side he seems to have success against.

MATCH PREDICTION – DRAW

Charlotte have lost only two of their last 24 home matches in all competitions since March last season (13 wins, nine draws). Every MLS team besides Charlotte and the Columbus Crew (one loss) have at least four home losses in that time.

Nashville's 4-1 win over Montreal was just the club’s second win since the beginning of March in all competitions. Nashville's only other win in that time was a victory over Charlotte on March 16.

Charlotte won their first meeting with Nashville, a 4-1 home victory in July 2022. However, Nashville are unbeaten in the three meetings since, and though they are on the road, they may have enough to earn a point this weekend.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Charlotte: 38.1%

Nashville: 32.2%

Draw: 29.7%

Gonzalo Pineda hopes his Atlanta United side's 3-0 win over the Charlotte Independence in the US Open Cup on Tuesday gives them confidence after a tricky recent run.

Atlanta had gone five MLS games without a win prior to Tuesday's victory, leaving them 10th in the Eastern Conference after 10 matches.

However, with his side now heading into a home game against D.C. United off the back of a dominant display, Pineda is hoping that will spur his players onto better things in the league.

"When you win and have a solid performance like we did today, that brings confidence to the players," Pineda told reporters.

"I think at times there are certain games like this that can be a game changer or system changer."

Meanwhile, D.C. have only won one of their last five outings themselves and are just two points and a place above Atlanta having played a game more.

D.C. appeared to be on their way to victory against the Philadelphia Union last weekend, but they let a two-goal lead slip to instead be held to a draw.

Despite letting the Union escape with a point, D.C. head coach Troy Lesesne believes it was still an impressive showing.

"It may have been our best performance of the year," Lesesne said. "I'm very proud of what we put together.

"At the end of the season, this will be a point against a really good side."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Atlanta United – Giorgos Giakoumakis

Giakoumakis attempted six shots against Minnesota United last weekend with all of them coming from inside the box. Giakoumakis has averaged 4.1 shots in the box per 90 minutes this season, the highest rate in MLS (min. 400 minutes), and he will be hoping to add to his impressive tally of five goals in seven MLS appearances this Saturday.

D.C. United – Christian Benteke

Benteke has already netted eight MLS goals so far this season and is very much on course to beat his output of 14 that he managed last term. He is a constant threat in attack for D.C., and Atlanta will have to keep a watchful eye on the former Liverpool man.

MATCH PREDICTION – ATLANTA WIN

Atlanta have suffered consecutive regular season home losses for the first time since July 2021. This is only the club's fourth two-match home losing streak in regular season play as they've never lost three in a row at home.

Meanwhile, D.C. lost a two-goal lead in their 2-2 draw with the Union. D.C. have dropped 12 points from winning positions this season, tied for the second most in the league this season (Sporting Kansas City – 14).

D.C. are winless in 10 straight away matches in all competitions dating back to early August, and Atlanta could extend that poor run by taking the three points on Saturday.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Atlanta: 55.2%

D.C.: 19.8%

Draw: 25%

Former Barbados midfielder, Kent Hall, has taken over as head coach of the Barbados senior men’s national football team, the Barbados Football Association announced on Thursday.

The 45-year-old represented Barbados in 17 matches from 2003-2006 and previously served as an assistant coach for the national team as well as head coach of the Under-20 team.

Hall takes over from BFA technical director and former Wigan Athletic and Crystal Palace defender Emmerson Boyce, who also made 12 appearances for the Bajan Tridents.

Boyce took charge of the final two matches of Barbados’ 2023–2024 Concacaf Nations League campaign versus Montserrat and Nicaragua.

They lost 0-4 to Nicaragua at home on November 17 before being beaten 4-2 in Montserrat on November 20.

The Tridents are gearing up for the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Curacao on Wednesday, June 5, 2024 and Sunday, June 9, 2024.

They have been drawn in Group A of League C of the 2024/2025 Concacaf Nations League and will take on Bahamas and US Virgin Islands in September.

Nick Cushing believes you have to “take the punches” in order to make progress as his New York City side prepare for a trip to Toronto FC in MLS on Saturday.

NYCFC were on a five-game unbeaten run in MLS, winning three matches in a row, before they lost 2-0 to the Colorado Rapids last weekend.

They currently sit seventh with 14 points, but things are tight in the Eastern Conference and another defeat could see NYCFC slip further down the table.

"When you win a three-game homestand, you feel like you're on top of the world," Cushing said.

"And then you lose one, and you feel like you fell off the edge of a cliff.

"This team is on a journey, and it's making progress. I said three, four weeks ago that progress is disheartening, right?

"Progress is demotivating, progress is disappointing. You have to take the punches and go back and figure out how you continue to progress and improve a young team, a new team, to continue to win football games."

Toronto are flying high in the East, sitting third with 19 points after putting together a three-match winning run, and are just five points behind leaders Inter Miami. 

Federico Bernardeschi scored twice as they beat FC Dallas 3-1 last time out in MLS, leaving head coach John Herdman to sing the Italian's praises. 

"I really enjoy working with Fede; there are so many different layers to him," Herdman said. 

"I asked him to stay focused on his leadership. As I keep telling him, if you keep focusing on shaping your leadership, good things happen to good leadership, and the universe turns, and that's what happened."

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Toronto – Federico Bernardeschi

Bernardeschi (two goals, one assist) was involved in all three of Toronto’s goals against Dallas last Saturday, making him the first Reds player to record three goal contributions in a match since Jacob Shaffelburg in September 2021.

NYCFC – Mounsef Bakrar

NYCFC lead all MLS teams for touches in the opponent's penalty area per match this year, averaging 30.2.

Among players, Bakrar is second in the league behind only Denis Bouanga (9.5), with 8.1 touches in the opponent’s box per 90 minutes this season (minimum 400 minutes played).

MATCH PREDICTION: DRAW

NYCFC have won three straight meetings with Toronto, including a 2-1 home win on March 16. It is the first time either team have won three straight meetings in the history of the sides' head-to-head series (26 matches in all competitions).

However, NYCFC have won just one of their 23 away matches in all competitions (nine draws, 13 losses), dating back to the start of last season, though that win came in Canada – a 1-0 victory at CF Montreal last July.

Meanwhile, Toronto have won four straight matches in all competitions after winning four of their previous 29 in all competitions dating back to May 2023. With a win on Saturday, Toronto can equal their points total from the entire 2023 season (22). However, Cushing's visitors are likely to be competitive.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Toronto – 32%

Draw – 29.5%

NYCFC – 38.5%

Running Magazine reports that Usain Bolt, the legendary eight-time Olympic gold medalist, has achieved a remarkable milestone even in retirement—holding the world record for the 100m sprint for the longest period in the event's history.

Bolt's record-setting time of 9.58 seconds, achieved at the 2009 World Athletics Championships final in Berlin on August 16, 2009, has now stood for an impressive 14 years, eight months, and 23 days. This accomplishment surpasses the previous longest-standing record held by American sprinter Jim Hines.

Jim Hines made history by clocking the first sub-10 second 100m in June 1968, becoming the first man to break the 10-second barrier in the event. Hines, known for his prowess both on the track and as a football player, held the world record from 1968 until 1982, marking an illustrious era in sprinting.

Despite being retired from professional track and field since 2017, Bolt remains confident about the durability of his records. In a December interview, Bolt expressed that he was "not worried" about his records in the 100m and 200m sprints being broken any time soon.

"It's a great title to have," Bolt shared in the same interview with World Athletics. "It's something that I enjoy hearing and I enjoy knowing."

Bolt's dominance in the 100m began in May 2008 when he first set the record, followed by breaking it twice more in August 2008 and exactly a year later in Berlin, where he achieved his historic time of 9.58 seconds.

Now at 37 years old, Usain Bolt continues to be celebrated as the fastest man ever, leaving an indelible mark on the history of athletics with his exceptional speed and enduring records. Despite the passage of time, Bolt's legacy remains a testament to his unparalleled talent and dedication to the sport.

 

 

 

In an exclusive interview prior to her 400m hurdles debut at the Jamaica Athletics Invitational in Kingston on Saturday, World Championship 400m hurdles bronze medalist Rushell Clayton has revealed her ambitious new goals for the upcoming season, setting her sights on achieving faster times and securing her first Olympic medal at the Paris 2024 Games.

Clayton, who impressed with a personal best of 52.81 to claim bronze at the 2023 World Championships in Budapest, kicked off her season with a lifetime best performance, clocking 51.81 in the 400m at Gainesville, Florida, in early April.

When Clayton won the bronze medal in Doha in 2019, Dalilah Mohammad won in a world-record time of 52.16. Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone won the silver medal in a time of 52.20. Since then, McLaughlin-Levrone has gone on to dominate the event while lowering the world record to a seemingly impossible time of 50.68 at the 2022 championships in Eugene, Oregon.

During that time, Clayton was busy rebounding from injury and has been on a pathway of improvement ever since. She was sixth in Eugene in 54.36.

Reflecting on her journey and setbacks, Clayton, who has never made an Olympic final, expressed determination to surpass her previous achievements and target even faster times. "Yes, I have a new goal. Getting into the finals and getting onto the podium, you will have to run fast," Clayton affirmed. "I am more focused on placements than time. I know it may take 51 to get on that podium (in Paris) and I will be ready to run that but I don’t want to focus so much on time because a lot of times when you focus on times you forget about every other thing."

 

Acknowledging her growth and progress, Clayton emphasized her physical and technical improvements over the past seasons. "I think over the last two seasons, I've got faster, got stronger," Clayton remarked confidently. "I used to be strong but I think I am way stronger now and I have been doing a lot of speed work. When you do speed work, it doesn’t come right away but I am starting to feel like I am getting faster because of my stride patterns now and how I am able to distribute around the track. My training is focused on all aspects needed to run fast."

Clayton's dedication to enhancing her performance includes strategic adjustments to her stride patterns and race tactics. "I have changed my stride pattern between the hurdles," she revealed. "A few people have asked me if I was running a particular stride pattern. The two fastest ladies in the world (McLaughlin-Levrone and Femke Bol), they’re doing 14 strides and I had to try it out and so far it has been doing good. I am learning stride patterns. I am learning more about the event and I am super-excited about my new race pace."

Looking ahead to the national championships in June, Clayton outlined her strategy of preparing through targeted race participation. "I am feeling good. I don’t normally open my season this late but then I remember I ran all the way to September (last year) and I had a PB in my first run (this season)," Clayton shared optimistically.

 "I think I am on the same schedule as I did last season. We ran a certain number of hurdle races before trials and that was maybe four so I leaning towards that. There are not a lot of four-hurdle races around the globe and when you line up it’s like a World Championship final so we pick the races; my team and I, we sit down and decide we’re going to run three or four races and we’re leaning towards about four hurdle races before trials and it kicks off at the Jamaica Athletic Invitational."

With a renewed focus on podium placements and faster times, Clayton seems poised to elevate her performance to new heights and make a compelling bid for Olympic success in Paris this summer.

 

 

 

 

Trinidad and Tobago's Head coach Angus Eve and his Guyanese counterpart Jamaal Shabazz welcomed the upcoming two-match friendly international series as a window to not only give new players an opportunity to strut their stuff, but also to gauge their overall readiness for the World Cup qualifiers.

The senior Soca Warriors and their Jaguars counterparts will lock horns on May 13 and 15 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Mucurapo, as they kick start preparations for the FIFA World Cup qualifiers in June, as well as the Concacaf Nations League campaign in September.

Eve pointed out that a handful of new players will be given the opportunity in the two matches owing to their good form in the ongoing 2023/24 T&T Premier Football League (TTPFL) season.

Defenders Sheldon Bateau, Josiah Trimmingham and Andre Raymond, who became a regular fixture at left back toward the backend of the Soca Warriors' 2023/24 Nations League campaign, have completed their respective club seasons and are expected to be involved in the friendlies. Daniel David, Ezekiel Kesar, Isaiah Lee, Matthew Woo-Ling and the Miscellaneous Police FC pair of Simeon Bailey and Josiah Wilson, will also be in the mix to stake a claim on a spot in the squad for the major tournaments.

"We see these games as a very important cog in the wheel of our preparations going into the World Cup campaign for 2026," Eve said, via a T&T Football Association release.

"It's an ongoing programme that we have started since I have come on board where we get some international games to get the locally based players up to speed to see how they perform against international opposition,” he added.

Guyana, guided by Shabazz, a former T&T coach, gained promotion for the upcoming Nations League A campaign after topping their Nations League B group, which included Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas and Puerto Rico. This represents their competitiveness and quality which Eve is expecting to see on show against his team.

"Guyana is also in the League A of the Nations League so it's not slouches we will be playing. It gives the local players a final opportunity to be seen outside of their league against international opposition so that we can pick the final squad. That is what these exercises are about,” Eve noted.

That said, the tactician explained that meetings with recently-elected TTFA president Kieron Edwards, have been fruitful.

"The TTFA president has been in the media saying how positive the meetings were and we think they were also positive from our end. He and his new board are committed to helping us and the country to qualify for another World Cup,” Eve shared.

Meanwhile, Shabazz believes the Soca Warriors are formidable opponents, as he praised the TTFA and the Guyana Football Federation for their huge investments with the staging of the friendly matches.

"Of course, whether it is football, cricket, hockey or rugby, when Guyana plays T&T, we want to win so it's also going to be a title fight. Trinidad and Tobago are formidable opponents, and it will provide a stern test for the home-based players vying for a spot in the final squad for our FIFA World Cup qualifiers in June,” Shabazz said.

The last meeting between the two teams at the same venue ended in a 1-1 stalemate two years ago.

Kick-off will be 7 pm on both days, with tickets priced at $75 (covered section) and $50 (uncovered section).

 

Blown emerged triumphant in a thrilling final of the 24th KPMG Squash League, defeating Fantastic Warriors in a fiercely contested showdown at the Liguanea Club. This victory marks Blown's inaugural championship title in the league, solidifying their place among Jamaica's squash elite.

The final match unfolded with nail-biting intensity as Blown navigated through a series of competitive encounters against their resilient opponents.

Blown initially faced adversity when Anthony Mahfood fell short in a closely contested match against Nabeel Jawad from the Fantastic Warriors. Mahfood displayed determination but ultimately succumbed to Jawad's precision, with scores of 16-21, 21-5, 10-21, 16-21.

However, Blown swiftly regained momentum with a standout performance from captain Jake Mahfood, who demonstrated exceptional skill and energy against Fantastic Warriors' captain Stewart Maxwell. Mahfood's dominance on the court was evident as he claimed victory in straight sets, with scores of 21-15, 21-15, 21-14, leveling the match at one apiece and setting the stage for a decisive third match.

In the pivotal third encounter, Andrew Bicknell demonstrated clinical prowess against Andre Sewell of the Fantastic Warriors, sealing the championship for Blown in commanding fashion with scores of 21-15, 21-20, 21-14.

Reflecting on the team's achievement, Captain Mahfood expressed gratitude to his teammates for their unflinching support throughout the tournament, highlighting Andrew Bicknell's exceptional performance as instrumental to their success.

"It's fantastic. It's a great tournament. It's been a phenomenal tournament, and we look forward to next year to defend our title," remarked Mahfood, exuding pride for Blown's victory.

Mahfood's stellar contributions did not go unnoticed, as he was honoured with the coveted MVP award, a testament to his leadership and on-court excellence. Fraser McConnell, another key member of the Blown team, played an integral role in their championship journey.

In response to the defeat, Stewart Maxwell of the Fantastic Warriors acknowledged the formidable skill and youthfulness of the Blown team, commending their superior performance on the court.

"When you have superior players whose shot placements give you a guided tour of the four corners of the court, that's exactly what happened," remarked Maxwell, highlighting the level of skill exhibited by the Blown squad.

Despite the outcome, Maxwell expressed optimism for the future, aiming to elevate the Fantastic Warriors' performance in the next edition of the KPMG Squash League.

The KPMG Squash League, widely regarded for its quality and longevity, received high praise from Tarun Handa, KPMG's senior partner, who highlighted the league's alignment with the organization's core values of integrity, excellence, and teamwork.

Karen Anderson, president of Jamaica Squash, echoed sentiments of satisfaction, emphasizing the event's inclusivity and significance in promoting the sport across diverse demographics.

 As Blown celebrates their historic victory, the squash community eagerly anticipates the continued growth and success of the KPMG Squash League, fueled by enduring partnerships with sponsors like KPMG and new supporters like WATA, who contribute to the sport's flourishing development in Jamaica.

 

 

 

Naggo Head Primary dethroned Spanish Town as champions of the INSPORTS/Devon Biscuits Primary Schools Central Championship, as they easily romped the event at GC Foster College, on Wednesday.

They amassed an impressive 313 points to pocket the $350,000 winning prize, while Spanish Town (236.5 points) had to settle for second position at the $250,000 runner-up prize, while third-placed Greater Portmore (229 points) received $200,000. The surprise package St John’s Primary (155 points) and Southborough (100 points) completed the top five.

The fourth to 10th-placed teams received $100,000 each for their efforts.

It was another day of record-breaking feats, with Nichkolet Brown of St John’s taking down the first of the day in the Girls’ Long Jump Open with a record leap of 4.57m. She won ahead of Shamielia Anderson (4.35m) of Friendship Primary.

Keneisha Robinson of Naggo Head captured the Girls’ 70m Hurdles in 12.16, with her teammate Shenell Coleman (12.92) finishing third. Afharia Anderson of Spanish Town was second in 23.23.

Donte Barrett and Kaydon Henry secured another 15 points for Naggo Head in the Boys’ 70m Hurdles. Barrett won in a new record 10.77, lowering his own mark of 11.36 set on Tuesday, while Greater Portmore's Dwayne Oakley (11.39) and Henry (11.57) were second and third respectively.

In arguably the race of the championship, Spanish Town’s Katalia Sterling outlasted favourite Waivany Walker of Naggo Head in the Girls’ Class one 400m, winning in a record 1:01.04, just ahead of Walker (1:01.11), who established the previous record on Tuesday.

The outstanding Robinson of Naggo Head returned to claim her second gold capturing the Class Two 300m in a record 43.55.

St John’s Primary controlled the Boys’ Class One 400m and Class Two 300m, which were won by Iandre Brown (58.93) and D’Andre Gobern (43.79).

The sprints turned up some impressive displays, but none more than Kashmer Gunther of Southborough Primary, who stopped the clock at 12.08 in the Boys’ Class One 100m. He erased Jevaney Findley’s 12.13 set last year. Renardo McCalla of Naggo Head took the Class Two event in 12.95, the same time as second-placed Jaden Reid of Southborough.

In the girls’ section, Shamara Chin of Greater Portmore took the Class One 100m with a record run of 12.93, while Allia Royal of Davis Primary captured the Class Two in Na13.91.

There were record runs in the Class Four 60m sprints as Azaria Williams of Naggo Head won in 9.15, ahead of Jada-Kaye Brown (9.45) of Greater Portmore. Vaughn Chambers of Crescent Primary won the boys’ equivalent in a record 8.76, just ahead of Jamair Dixon (8.77) of Kensington Primary.

Perez Pearson of St John’s leapt 5.15m to better his previous record of 4.91m in the Boys’ Long Jump Open. Jaydon Allen (4.97m) of Greater Portmore and Friendship’s Damarion Crooks (4.93) were second and third, respectively.

Pearson returned to anchor his team to Medley relay victory in a record 1:54.32. They won ahead of Kensington (2:00.45) and Naggo Head (2:02.77).

In the Girls Medley Open, Kensington won in 2:00.69, ahead of St John’s (2:06.31) and Naggo Head (2:06.35).

Naggo Head topped the Girls’ 4x200m relay in a record 1:49.12, erasing the old mark of 1:52.31 held by Greater Portmore. Spanish Town (1:52.66) and Greater Portmore (1:54.44) were the runners-up.

Southborough closed the day’s proceeding in style. They won the Boy’ 4x200m relay in 1:46.55, ahead of Naggo Head (1:48.18) and St John’s (1:50.92).

Naggo Head and Eastern Champions Lysson of St Thomas lead the top eight teams into the Grand finale set for May 20-22 to decide the all-island champion.

The Western Championship starts on Thursday.

Top 10 -Naggo Head (313), Greater Portmore (236.5), Spanish Town (229), St John’s Primary (155), Southborough (100), Davis Primary (95), St Catherine (76), Kensington (69), Ascot (56), Homestead (48.5)

 

Major Desmon Brown, the General Manager of Independence Park Limited, has provided assurances that the playing surface at Jamaica's National Stadium will be in excellent shape for the Reggae Boyz opening World Cup qualifier against the Dominican Republic on June 6, despite a busy upcoming schedule of events.

The National Stadium is set to host a series of high-profile events, starting with the Jamaica Athletics Invitational on May 11, followed by the Jamaica Premier League final on May 19, and the INSPORTS Devon Biscuits Primary School Championships from May 23-25. Additionally, the Racers Grand Prix will take place on June 1, just five days before the crucial World Cup qualifier.

With various athletic competitions taking place, including throwing events like the discus, Major Brown expressed concerns about maintaining the integrity of the playing surface, particularly due to the potential damage caused by shot put activities.

"The discus and the javelin are not a problem. It’s the shot put that is the problem," explained Major Brown, highlighting the challenges posed by the heavy metal ball which can create deep divots in the field.

“We did it sometime ago for Champs when we had to do it for like four days. What we did is that we took it up every night and put it back in the mornings otherwise it would kill the grass. If they throw the shot put, it takes three to four weeks to sort it out.

“It’s a sand field so (the shot put) compresses the sand and then you have to dig it up so that the grass can grow back through it.”

To mitigate this issue, Major Brown detailed a specialized plan involving the use of plywood and sand to protect the grass from damage caused by shot put. This method, although expensive, is effective in ensuring the field remains playable and in good condition for the upcoming football qualifier.

Despite the rigorous schedule of events, Major Brown emphasized that the playing surface has significantly improved in recent years, thanks to dedicated efforts to control weeds and maintain overall quality.

"We have a group of people who are very dedicated to getting that field back in good condition, so even with the events that we had recently, we are working on it to get it back," assured Major Brown.

Importantly, organizers of the international track meets have confirmed that only the discus will be contested during the upcoming Jamaica Athletics Invitational and the Racers Grand Prix, alleviating concerns about potential damage caused by shot put competition.

With Major Brown's strategic plans and diligent efforts, football fans can rest assured that the National Stadium will provide a suitable and safe venue for the Reggae Boyz as they kick off their World Cup qualifying campaign against the Dominican Republic on June 6.

Naggo Head Primary surged to a 12-point lead heading in the final day of the INSPORTS/Devon Biscuits Primary Schools Central Championship at GC Foster College, in St Catherine, on Tuesday.

They won three of the eighth relays, all in record fashion, which propelled them to 89 points after 11 finals. Naggo Head is followed by Greater Portmore on 77 points, while defending champions Spanish Town Primary are third with 74.5 points, with St John’s Primary (58 points) in fourth. Davis Primary rounds out the top five on 33 points.

There will be 29 finals on Wednesday's final day with the Central Champion to be crowned at the end.

The winning school will walk away with $350,000, with $250,000 going to the second-placed team, and $200,000 for third. Fourth to 10th place teams will collect $100,000 each.

In the day’s first final, Yasheka Lewis of Gregory Park won the Girls Cricketball Open with a throw of 43.86m smashing the record for the second time in two day. She earlier threw 41.09m.

Naggo Head got massive points finishing second and third courtesy of Tahnida Gordon (40.82m) and Deranique Gordon (38.73m).

Bridgeport Primary won the Girls Class Four 4x100 relay lowering the record they set on Monday to 1:01.50. Greater Portmore (1:01.82) was second, ahead Davis Primary (1:01.97).

In the Boys’ Class Four 4x100, Naggo Head sped to an impressive 58.94 and destroyed the previous record of 1:00.14 set earlier by Greater Portmore. Davis primary (59.87) and Greater Portmore (1:01.43) were the runners-up.

Naggo Head returned and won the Girls' Class Three relay in a record 55.28 and erased their own mark of 56.75 established in the heats. Davis Primary (56.31) continued their good showing in second position.

The Boys’ Class Three 4x100 relay was an exciting one, with Greater Portmore just edging Naggo Head in a thriller. They clocked a record 54.44 to Naggo Head's 54.48.

As the records continued to tumble, Naggo Head continued to pile up the points, as they captured the Girls' Class Two 4x100 in a record run of 52.73, ahead of Greater Portmore (53.40) and Spanish Town (54.83).

So impressive were Naggo Head girls that the boys in the same class, ran a record 53.12. That record was clocked by Greater Portmore, who won ahead of Southborough (53.32), and Ascot Primary (53.45).

Greater Portmore took the Girls' Class One 4x100 in 52.81, which was also a record. They won ahead of Naggo Head (53.07) and Spanish Town (53.09).

The final relay, the Boys' Class One, saw Spanish Town secure their only win, clocking 50.34 ahead of Southborough (50.65).

Jamaica’s Under-17 men's Head coach Altimont Butler and his Trinidad and Tobago counterpart Shawn Cooper, took heart from their teams’ performances in the recent two-match friendly series, as they welcomed the early preparations for next year’s World Cup qualifiers.

The teams shared the series one win apiece, as Trinidad and Tobago won the first encounter 1-0, before the Jamaicans replied with a 2-1 victory in the second contest at the UWI-JFF Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence last weekend.

Both Butler and Cooper believe their objectives for this, the early stages of their preparations, were met as both anticipate significant improvements along the way in their build up to the 2025 Concacaf Men’s Under-17 Championships, which will serve as the qualifier to that age group’s World Cup in Qatar, also scheduled for next year.

“The objective was to see how we could connect as a group. It wasn’t about the results as we are still trying to learn the characteristics of the players. It was good for me to see them in an international game, and I think we can get it together soon,” Butler said.

Earlier this year, FIFA, announced that the Under-17 World Cup will be expanded from 24 to 48 teams, this Butler said increases their chances of making the final cut for the global showpiece, as he is expecting to unearth some talented overseas-based players to strengthen the team.

“That means more spots for Concacaf, and that gives us even a greater opportunity to qualify for the next World Cup. However, in order to qualify, we have to fix a few things,” he noted.

For Cooper, not losing the series away was a positive in and of itself, as it represents a solid platform on which his young Soca Warriors outfit can build going forward.

“For me, leaving here one-all in the series, I think I am on top. We took the first rubber. They had to come hard to equalise, so we are leaving Jamaica with our heads held high. It is always beneficial in playing Jamaica. This game was played like a proper international game and not like a training game or a friendly. Some of our guys saw what it takes to play at the international level and it is all well for their development,” Copper shared.

“We are hoping to go foreign and see what guys we have that can fill in. We have a number of guys at Inter Miami who played against Olympic Lyon, so we have about three of them. We are looking to broaden our horizons so that when we go back to Trinidad, with the exposure these guys have, it will only do well for us in going forward,” he added.

Following another series of top-notch performances over the weekend, it comes as no surprise that Caribbean players continue to line the statistics leaderboards in the early exchanges of the 2024 Suncorp Super Netball League campaign.

Jamaica's Jhaniele Fowler-Nembhard and Shanice Beckford, assisted West Coast Fever to a thumping 75-59 win over New South Wales Swifts, the team of Trinidad and Tobago stalwart Samantha Wallace-Joseph, while other Jamaicans, Romelda Aiken-George, Shamera Sterling-Humphrey, and Latanya Wilson, were instrumental in Adelaide Thunderbirds’ 69-49 win over Jodi-Ann Ward’s GIANTS.

Fowler-Nembhard, an imposing figure in the shooting circle, scored 61 goals from 62 attempts in the Fever’s latest win, and remains top of the tables in several categories – namely, Nissan Net Points (490.5), goals (243) and attempts (248). Aiken-George (148 goals and 171 attempts) and Wallace-Joseph (138 goals and 148 attempts) are fourth and fifth in the goals and attempts categories respectively.

Beckford has been finding her footing at the two-point Super Shot line in her debut season, but it is the 86 centre passes received that has her atop that category, jointly with Fever’s teammate Alice Teague-Neeld and Liz Watson of the Sunshine Coast Lightning.