More documentaries needed on Jamaica's exploits in sports

By June 22, 2020

Last week one of the cable channels was showing the 2016 documentary 'I am Bolt', which captured what was happening behind the scenes with Usain Bolt, in his own words, from 2008 to his final appearance at the Olympics in 2016.

Over the course of those three Olympic Games, Bolt won nine gold medals (the 2008 relay medal was stripped) in what was one of the most dominant eras by any athlete in track and field. I had a full plate of work before me but I was not able to pull myself away even though I had already watched it, maybe four or five times already.

It still gave me goosebumps watching Bolt’s career finally take off the way many of us expected, setting world records and winning gold medals and exciting track and field fans like no one had ever seen before.

It is a critical piece of the sport’s history and Jamaica's history as well.

Before the Bolt era, there were not that many books written about Jamaica’s track and field athletes and there have been many of the latter.

For a country its size, Jamaica has produced so many superstar athletes, it belies imagination. Herb McKenley, Arthur Wint, Lennox Miller, Marilyn Neufville, Donald Quarrie, Jackie Pusey, Merlene Ottey, Raymond Stewart, James Beckford, Sandie Richards, Juliet Cuthbert, Winthrop Graham, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Brigitte Foster-Hylton, Beverly McDonald, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce, Asafa Powell; the list goes on and on.

However, by comparison, so little has been documented of their respective careers.

The time has come for us to commission the production of documentaries that will provide archival material on what has been the greatest era of the country’s prowess.

From the current era alone VCB, Shelly, Melaine Walker, Omar McLeod, Sherone Simpson, and more have set records that have become necessary to document.

Not all will be a 107-minute long piece like 'I am Bolt'. The respective stories will determine their own lengths, but it is important that we have these athletes tell us their stories.

These athletes are living history and we should not wait until they are gone to have someone else tell their stories. They should be telling us their stories. VCB and Fraser-Pryce, for example, have some compelling stories to tell.

What do we do with these documentaries?

Well, the government is building a sports museum. These documentaries would be playing on big screens as be part of any tour by those interested in Jamaica’s sporting history. Copies should also be at the National Library to be used in a similar fashion.

The Ministry of Sports should have its own YouTube channel where each of these documentaries is always available to the public for general knowledge, research and similar pursuits.

This undertaking should not be limited to track and field, however.

Alia Atkinson, Chris Binnie, Ali McNabb, Lindy Delaphena, our boxers Mike McCallum, Richard Clarke, Trevor Berbick, Simon Brown, Nicholas Walters are others worthy of being documented.

As time passes, we should not be searching all over the place, oftentimes unsuccessfully, to find data on Jamaica’s incredible sporting history. Our ancestors used to pass knowledge along verbally. We have built statues to honour some of our sporting greats, the time is nigh for us to have more than just images cast in stone.

 

 

Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At SportsMax.tv he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

Related items

  • JFF express interest in Leeds midfielder Kalvin Phillips JFF express interest in Leeds midfielder Kalvin Phillips

    The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) have reportedly sought to secure the services of Leeds United central midfielder Kalvin Phillips.

    The 24-year-old is fresh off playing a crucial role in the team’s successful bid to secure promotion to the English Premier League (EPL).  The Caribbean team are hoping to he can play a similar role in their bid to secure a return to the FIFA World Cup.  A feat they first accomplished in 1998.

    Phillips is of Jamaican heritage and could quality to represent the county by virtue of the fact that his father is Jamaican.  The player has, however, also attracted the interest of his birth nation England, with his progress already being monitored by the team’s manager Gareth Southgate.

    The Jamaican’s are currently in an eight-team final round World Cup qualification group, which will see three teams qualify directly to the tournament and another secure a play-off spot.  The JFF has already reportedly contacted Leeds asking for permission to sit down with Phillips and try to convince him to pick the Caribbean unit.  Phillips, who was born in Leeds, has never been selected to represent that Three Lions at any level and could have a tough time securing a spot in a talented England team.

  • Moments In Time: Remembering 1997, 2005, the Reggae Boyz and the Soca Warriors Moments In Time: Remembering 1997, 2005, the Reggae Boyz and the Soca Warriors

    Despite a rich history in football, the Caribbean has not had many moments to savour on the World stage, making them, interestingly, all the more special.

    Cuba provided the first of the moments, making the quarterfinals of the FIFA World Cup all the way back in 1938.

    Cuba had always been a little special island, long proving itself self-sufficient and able to compete with the rest of the world, despite any political or financial issues that could serve to slow its development.

    That self-sufficiency and ability to achieve despite significant odds meant that Cuba’s entrance to the FIFA World Cup was not a emblematic moment and the rest of the Caribbean felt no closer to the possibility of making it on the world stage.

    Thirty-six years later, Haiti provided the second moment, getting to the FIFA World Cup in 1974.

    That feat, for a country, which had long-standing political issues and an overbearing poverty problem, was immense.

    Now the rest of the Caribbean began to take note. Maybe now other islands could dare to dream.

    While Haiti’s football has ebbed and flowed and they have not quite gotten back to those heady heights, the moment was important.

    All of a sudden, the possibilities for Caribbean football were immense.

    But it took another 20 years before the Reggae Boyz were on a similar journey. For the first time, CONCACAF had more than the obligatory two spots that would go to Mexico and the United States.

    Now there was hope for someone else to join the fray. Still there were obstacles.

    In 1997, the Reggae Boyz were up against it. In the final round they were winless, until a series of three games, 1-0 wins over each of El Salvador, Canada, and Costa Rica.

    After finishing winless in the first four games of the final qualifying round, Jamaica recorded three 1–0 wins over El Salvador, Canada, and Costa Rica, giving them a chance at history.

    Jamaica were on the cusp of becoming the first English-speaking team from the Caribbean to make it to the World Cup.

    But standing in their way was the mighty Mexico. Jamaica needed to avoid losing to a team they had lost to 6-0 earlier in those qualifiers. There was hope but it was slim.

    History has a funny way of staying the same and no matter how many times this story gets told, the 0-0 draw the Reggae Boyz achieved against the attacking juggernauts that were Mexico still seems unlikely.

    An entire nation celebrated, but so did the rest of the Caribbean. After all, there were other countries in the region that had proven worthy adversaries for the Reggae Boyz and that meant somebody else could make it too.

    In 2006, somebody else did.

    Trinidad and Tobago, still with two of its legends, Dwight Yorke and Russell Latapy, in tow would take an ageing team, and prove the Caribbean were now becoming a force to be reckoned with.

    Until 2018 when Iceland made their World Cup bow, T&T were the smallest nation to ever play in the tournament.

    But it wasn’t easy either, and Trinidad and Tobago, after finishing fourth in the final round had to contend with the unknown quantity that was Bahrain.

    The tiny twin-island republic had to play against a team, which had financial resources that would dwarf it.

    Things looked even more bleak for T&T after the first leg of the home-and-away tie on November 12, 2005, played at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, ended 1-1.

    This meant, T&T had to go away to win against a team they couldn’t get the better of at home.

    Again, the Caribbean beat the odds and a 1-0 win at the Bahrain National Stadium on the 16th of November 2005 again changed the course of history for the Caribbean side and the region around it.

    The Caribbean has, since those moments made great leaps in the transport of its players all over the world, even if those marginal improvements have yet to bare fruit in terms of consistent Caribbean representation at the ICC World Cup.

    But the improvements continue as can be seen with the large number of locally grown players, now turning out for the national teams of countries all over the region.

    Today there is more and more competition from the rest of the Caribbean and neither T&T nor Jamaica have a free run of the region anymore.

    It is interesting that the success of the three over the last 46 years, is what has created a competitive Caribbean and destroyed the spectre of their unquestioned dominance.  

  • Why ISSA, JFF should scrap plans for high school football for 2020 Why ISSA, JFF should scrap plans for high school football for 2020

    When the pandemic shut the world down in March, it also shut down the world of sports.

    All the major football leagues – the EPL, La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A, Primera Liga; the NBA, Swimming, Super League Netball, everything was shut down for like four months.

    It was the same here in Jamaica. The ISSA Boys and Girls Champs, Red Stripe Premier League, everything. If it was classified as a sport, it was done.

    However, things gradually started to open back up.

    The EPL and the other major European football leagues found a way to complete their respective seasons even if it came at great expense. Massive levels of testing of players and support staff, as well as technical people to facilitate the broadcast of the matches, played in empty stadia.

    Players were quarantined in hotels and not allowed outside their respective bubbles in order to ensure that there was little chance that they or their teammates would become infected.

    Here in Jamaica, there is talk of getting the Red Stripe Premier League going again later this year.  That should present quite a challenge for the 12 teams in the league and the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), who will have to figure out how they are going to get things going while keeping the players and support staff safe.

    Will they quarantine players and staff? Where will they house them? Will fans be allowed into the stadia where the teams are playing? This latter issue could be a major factor in how teams will approach the season.

    In the absence of broadcast money and most likely corporate sponsorship, teams in the RSPL will depend heavily on gate receipts. However, with restrictions being placed on the number of supporters that will be allowed inside the stadia, how will teams stay afloat while still paying players and covering all the other costs associated with running a football franchise?

    Perhaps, the JFF and the 12 teams will be able to fashion some semblance of a season but for schoolboy football, things are a lot more uncertain. The situation is so tenuous that not even the JFF President Michael Ricketts can say for sure whether there will be a school-boy season.

    More than 40 teams contest the Manning Cup in Jamaica’s Corporate Area. Out in rural Jamaica, the magnitude of the undertaking is so much larger. More than a hundred schools are set to take part in the daCosta Cup competition.

    I am not sure the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association can pull that off.

    How will schools handle the players? Will they be allowed to go home once training camps begin? Will players be allowed to attend regular classes with other kids from so many different backgrounds and communities that might have asymptomatic people walking around or living in their homes?

     How will the schools protect coaches? How do schools plan to pay for sanitizers and all the other things needed to ensure that everyone remains safe during the course of the season?

    On the face of it, I don’t think they can.

    There are way too many schools, way too many environments to control and secure and way too many players to place in any kind of bubble that will guarantee their safety while preventing a national outbreak of the coronavirus in schools across the island.

    As of today, fewer than 1000 Jamaicans have been confirmed to be carrying the COVID-19 virus. If there are any missteps, any gaps in proposed protocols, ISSA runs the risk of causing an island-wide outbreak that could see tens of thousands of Jamaicans becoming infected and possibly hundreds, if not thousands, of deaths.

    The disaster would be on such a scale, Jamaica’s medical facilities would be significantly overwhelmed.

    The way I see it, there should be no school-boy football in Jamaica for 2020. It would be foolhardy to even attempt it.

     

     

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.