Digicel Foundation gifts Paralympics with $10m court
President of the Jamaica Paralympics Association, Christopher Samuda, believes the refurbished basketball court at the John Golding Rehabilitation Centre will help improve the local standard, enhancing Jamaica's chances of qualifying for another Paralympics Games.
The court was refurbished for approximately $10 million and was officially handed over at a ceremony at the facility on Monday afternoon.
"This is historic. We have always had a very good wheelchair basketball team and what they have done here is to reignite the hope of our basketball players and we will be looking again to qualify for the regional and International tournaments.
"We have exceptional talents here and this is what Paralympics is all about, giving hope to our talents who in fact are quite able," said Samuda.
The president also revealed that the newly opened basketball facility would allow stakeholders earning potential as the court will be rented to interested individuals.
"We will be using this court to train our athletes, but will also be looking at other opportunities to earn. So, we will be hosting competitions and we will be inviting those who want to use the court to come and use it and we will exercise our discretion, in regards to rental and so on," Samuda said.
"Wheelchair basketball has always been a staple and we are now going into what people call non-traditional sports. We have fencers, surfers, taekwondo and judo athletes who have earned medals.
"Never before has this happened in the history of the Paralympics Association in Jamaica, so what we are doing is giving other options in sports," he added.
Jean Lowrie-Chin, chairperson for Digicel Jamaica Foundation, stated that the move was a well-needed one to show appreciation to the Paralympians who continue to represent the country at the highest level.
"It was so inspiring when I looked at these special Olympians who have so many challenges and yet they continue to train and triumph in these games and fly our Jamaica flag high. It is really a delight that we could resurface this court and fix the stands so that more Jamaicans can come and watch them train and compete," said Lowrie-Chin.
She stated that despite the steep price to refurbish the court, it was an investment that was well received.
"It costs J$10 million and what was wonderful was that our Digicel staff, not only the foundation, came and volunteered with the painting and we were so happy just to do it," she added.