The 2011 GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships has been going through something of a reform as far as its reputation for creating violent confrontation goes.
Over the last few years, peace initiatives have been the order of the day and, to be honest, violence at the championships, the most popular track and field event on the Jamaican calendar, or surrounding it for that matter, has diminished.
This year, the championships’ peace ambassador is Chantal Raymond, Miss Jamaica World 2010. One of the things she did was to invite her former schoolmate and National Football League (NFL) player, Jeremy Mincey of the Jacksonville Jaguars, to be the keynote speaker at the Champs Peace Initiative Forum held at Jamaica House two Fridays ago.
The visit was Mincey’s first to the island and he took with him, friend and fellow NFL star, Kyle Moore of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The objective of the forum was to promote civility in schools, especially during the Champs season and Mincey didn’t miss a beat.
He took the opportunity to share details of his journey to becoming a professional athlete with the students.
In doing so, he spoke passionately about getting past the barrier of a poor upbringing, which included the trauma of having a father who was addicted to drugs.
Education, Mincey explained, played a crucial role in achieving his goal. However, the most applicable message, as it relates to Champs, was the fact that Mincey used his friendship with Moore as an example of “friendly rivalry”.
According to the NFL star, it was one thing for student athletes, fans and followers to share their enthusiasm and spirit for the sport, but another for that intensity and passion to escalate into violence.
Raymond voiced similar sentiments, and hit closer to home when she added that “Jamaica is a very prominent country in the global sporting arena and as such there are great possibilities for our young Jamaican athletes. However, when poor or destructive behaviour is on display, it can detract from our athletes’ abilities, potentially robbing them of greater opportunities.”
‘It was one thing for student athletes, fans and followers to share their enthusiasm and spirit for the sport, but another for that intensity and passion to escalate into violence.’