Going all unconventional: not just a nation of sprinters, cricketers and male footballers

The past few weeks has seen something unique: a Jamaican swimmer, Alia Atkinson,Alia-Atkinson2_w304_w304 has been tearing up international waters, winning and placing high in the touring series of swim meets, called the World Cup. World Cup legs this year have already taken place in Eindhoven, Berlin, Moscow, Dubai, Doha and now Singapore.The series will end with two legs in Tokyo, Japan (November 9-10) and Beijing, China (November 13-14). Having just brought my child back from her swimming practice, I wondered if Jamaican children are beginning to focus on what Alia is doing and in some little way starting to turn their eyes toward less popular sports in which we should be able to excel, but tend to fall short. Here’s to hoping.

At this moment, Jamaica’s under-17 women’s team is playing a semi-final in the CONCACAF Championships. The winner will advance to the 2014 World Cup in Costa Rica. The matches are being played in Jamaica, at Montego Bay Sports Complex’ Catherine Hall Stadium. This is historic: the team has done better than ever before. Close behind them will be their under 20 compatriots. Screen Shot 2013-11-07 at 6.18.08 PMThe 2014 CONCACAF Women’s  under 20 Championship is scheduled to kick off on January 9, 2014 in the Cayman Islands. The men’s team may get the public attention, but success is a very good basis on which to build, so I hope that the young women will be more than an afterthought.

More openings are coming along for girls to play soccer in Jamaica. For my part, I just had the pleasure of being nominated to coach elementary girls at my daughter’s school. I’ve been there before, in the US, and I have the coaching qualifications 🙂

Many doors could be open for talented youths in areas that have been less in the public eye, and as Americans have found, educational opportunities may come with the sports, too, in the form of scholarships. The fact that women are coming to the fore is not so surprising, but it’s not my view that we have special advantages there, but we do have good female athletes and a long tradition of having women in sports, at least through high school, and after that for track and field. Let’s see how this moves. Too early to talk of groundswell, but make noise.