The seventh staging of the David ‘Wagga’ Hunt Football Extravaganza and Scholarship Initiative will be staged today at the UWI Bowl, Mona.Three games are down to be contested, starting at 1 p.m. with a Masters game between Pelican and Clarendon Eagles. The second game at 3 p.m. will feature the University of the West Indies’ Premier League team against Seaview Gardens’ Major League outfit.The feature match at 4:30 p.m. will see Kingston College (KC) and Calabar High’s Manning Cup teams going up against each other.The event, which is in its seventh year, is geared towards funding full scholarships for two eighth-grade students, one each from Calabar and KC, respectively. The scholarships are valued at $600,000 each, with $100,000 to be disbursed to the scholars each year during their high-school years.commendable academic performanceThe scholarships are valid for the duration of the students’ secondary-level schooling and will cover things like tuition, books, lunch and other relevant expenses.Scholarship recipients must display commendable academic performance and attitude, they should be involved in sports and other co-curricular activities and in need of financial assistance.Meanwhile, a donation to both schools will also be forwarded, with KC and Calabar to receive $100,000 each for the programmes.The David ‘Wagga’ Hunt Football Extravaganza and Scholarship Initiative has already contributed more than $2million, with more than 12 students benefitting from the programme, along with the two students to be selected this year.The annual event commemorates the life of former Meadhaven United and Calabar High coach, Hunt, for his committed and extensive contribution to the development of football in Jamaica.
Alicia ‘Slick’ Ashley will get the opportunity to regain her World Boxing Council (WBC) Super bantamweight title on September 15, when she meets Christina ‘Lightning’ McMahon from Ireland in Astoria, Queens, New York.She lost the title on September 6 last year to Mexican Jackie Nava, by way of a controversial points decision. Since then, Nava also won the World Boxing Association title, and has been named a Super champion. She has, therefore, vacated the WBC title, and Ashley and McMahon will now seek to succeed her.Ashley told The Gleaner yesterday that she was very happy to get the opportunity to regain the title that she held for more than three years, and was going into the fight against McMahon very confident.”The Irish are tough people and I expect a good fight, but my goal is to take back my title” she said.Both boxers are in their forties. Ashley, who is a fast-moving and clever boxer, is 47, but most people are shocked when she reveals this, as she looks much younger. She has a 22-10-1 record with four knockouts and her last fight was in Haiti last November, when she stopped Grecia Nova in seven rounds. She is much more experienced that McMahon and this will give her a decided edge.McMahon is 41, and has a 7-0 record. She has fast hands, moves a lot and has stopped three of her opponents. Her last fight was on May 2 this year against Catherine Phiri, for the WBC interim bantamweight title, in Lusaka, Zambia, and she won by majority decision.
Rohit Sharma scored 82 runs and helped India reach 227-8 in 63.2 overs at stumps on day three of the second Test against New Zealand in Kolkata.The hosts lead by 339 runs, with Wriddhiman Saha on 39 and Bhuvneshwar Kumar on eight at the crease.Sharma played an assured knock on a pitch with variable bounce, negotiating both pace and spin with ease. He faced 132 balls and hit nine fours and two well-timed sixes. He reached his sixth Test 50 off 89 deliveries.Sharma’s batting helped the hosts recover from a precarious situation and with a sizeable lead, they are now once again in command of this Test with two days remaining.”There was something in the surface throughout the day. It’s not a typical Kolkata wicket,” said Sharma, who has been under fire for a string of low scores. “I am not under any pressure. I scored runs in the first Test (in Kanpur), too.”With Saha, Sharma put on 103 runs for the seventh wicket, the fourth time in the last five Tests that India have had a century partnership for this pairing. In doing so, the duo pushed the score past the 200-mark and took the overall lead to 300 to put the hosts in a comfortable position.Sharma, who scored a maiden Test 100 on debut at Eden Gardens against West Indies in 2013, was approaching his second ton when he was caught behind off Mitchell Santner (3-51).The left-arm spinner also accounted for Ravindra Jadeja (6), caught off a skier. Play was halted early due to bad light.With the variable bounce in the pitch, the match already looks beyond the visitors’ reach. The highest fourth-innings’ target chased successfully here is 117 by India against South Africa in 2004.
PARIS (AP):Celebrating the best season of his career, Andy Murray cemented his rise to No. 1 by beating John Isner 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-4 yesterday to win the Paris Masters for the first time.It was his eighth title this year, his 14th in Masters overall. It also ended Isner’s bid for a first Masters title.”I felt really nervous before the match,” Murray said, despite having beaten the big-serving American in all seven of their previous career meetings.Murray will officially replace Novak Djokovic¥ at the top of the rankings when they are published today.”It might only be for one week, so, I might as well try and enjoy it,” Murray said, “because I could lose it at the (ATP) Tour Finals and never be there again.”The 29-year-old Murray is still getting accustomed to his new-found status.”I don’t really know if it’s sunk in or not,” said Murray, who is a three-time Grand Slam winner and a double Olympic champion. “It feels different (to) when I had won a Grand Slam or (the) Olympics,” especially in the number of congratulatory messages.”More than I’ve had after any match I have played in my life,” Murray said. “It’s very nice because you have won the respect of the players.”Murray recently beat Isner 6-1, 6-3 in the quarter-finals of the Erste Bank Open in Vienna, but this was thoroughly contested.”We played last week and the difference was huge,” Murray said.Using 18 aces and hitting plenty of inside-out winners on his massive forehand, Isner generated considerable pressure, but he also wasted six break points overall.RARE DIPIn the second set, he was 4-3 ahead and 40-0 up on Murray’s serve but failed to punish the Briton – last year’s runner-up to Djokovic¥.But in a rare dip, Murray double-faulted during the tiebreaker and Isner profited to take the set.Isner saved break points on his first two service games of the third set, hanging on as Murray restored his superiority.Then, serving to stay in the match, the American double-faulted to trail 0-30. He won a tough first point and then hit yet another ace to make it 30-30.Isner sank a difficult volley into the net, giving Murray a first-match point. With Isner on second serve, Murray dominated a brief rally, pinging a pass down the line that Isner patted into the net with the ball close to his body.It was a hard-fought victory and Isner stood with his head down at the net, waiting to congratulate Murray.Murray has won four consecutive tournaments, taking his career tally to 43.
The good players always came back, however, and they came back through players like Michael Holding, Jeffrey Dujon, Courtney Walsh, Patrick Patterson, James Adams, Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes, Fidel Edwards, Carl Hooper, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Brian Lara, Ian Bishop, Richie Richardson and Curtley Ambrose, and many more before them. The West Indian islands have always produced good players, and the players always, or most times, won titles. When Jamaica take to the field in March in their bid for the regional title, they will do so without some of their top players, without Gayle, Samuels, and Russell, and they will do so definitely without Nkrumah Bonner and Sheldon Cottrell. Win or lose, it will not be the same to me. I am a West Indian, and I love West Indies cricket. But I am a Jamaican-West Indian. Jamaica is the land of my birth. As Chris Gayle said recently, however, and apparently quite easily and with a smile on his face, “This is franchise cricket,” the four words that cover up everything else, some quite understandable (family), some understandable (money), and some not so understandable (money, and more money). In today’s world, in the mad rush for money, and more money, the four words, “this is franchise cricket”, trump loyalty, and sacrifice (even for those who would not any longer have to make the sacrifice). The cricketers go wherever they want to go, so, too, do the nurses, the teachers, and whoever wants to do so, and thank God, they are free so to do. To Carlos Brathwaite, however, for his commitment to Barbados and West Indies cricket, for leaving the Sydney Thunder and the Australian Big Bash and for deciding to play, after his brilliant last-minute blast of four consecutive sixes, carried the West Indies to victory in last year’s ICC World T20 Championship and pushed him to the top of the world’s “most wanted” list, for Barbados and the West Indies in the region’s Super50 tournament, well done and good luck. That’s a good example, a perfect example, and one that brings new hope for West Indies cricket. Some may say that sport today is business, and that it is just a part of modern-day business. That may be so. In the West Indies, however, in West Indies cricket, the franchise system must be different, and it must be different if only for reason. The franchise is used for club-to-club transactions and not for country-to-country transactions. In other words, it is used at the level below international representation, thus making it a good system for countries like England, Australia, India, and South Africa, for countries like the USA, Jamaica, and Barbados, and places like that. The West Indies, however, and West Indies cricket, therefore, are unique. The West Indies is made up of 12 sovereign countries, 12 independent countries, and of countries with their own governments, their own constitutions, their own money, their own national anthems, and their own flags, etcetera. And not one of these governments, at least not to my knowledge, has given anyone the authority to fiddle with the constitution of their country by making a citizen of another country a citizen of their country for the purposes of cricket. Neither have they given them the authority to sell off one of their players to another country, and only for cricket at that. Once upon a time, when the West Indies were the best in the world at cricket, their cricketers all played for their respective countries, and they played well. The competition was good, and those countries which were not so good tried to develop themselves until they themselves became good. Those days, the players were good, and the countries won and lost matches and tournaments. When they won tournaments, the countries celebrated, and when they lost, the countries looked around, built again, and tried to come again. Those who proposed and passed the franchise system, West Indian-style, probably have never heard the song, “Land of my birth, I pledge to thee, loyal and faithful, strong and free”. If they had, they probably would not have suggested it, much less forced it on the people of the West Indies. As good as the franchise system sometimes can be, it is not good for the West Indies, and especially not for those Jamaicans who are touched by the words, “This is my Jamaica, my Jamaica”, or for those, even though they are West Indians also, who are influenced by the words of another song, “I vow to thee my country”. The franchise system is a system used in sports, along with the name of a club or a community, to make money, and as much money as possible. It is hardly ever used to lift the standard of sport. Its main intention is not to improve sport by switching players around, from club to club, or from community to community, but rather to haul in money through the sale of players in an effort to win trophies, or simply to field a good, competitive team for the satisfaction of winning and to make more money. It is a simple matter. If I cannot produce a good player, I can go and buy one, and if I am not satisfied, I can go out and buy another. It is much easier than attempting to produce a good player. It is easier, and much cheaper, to find a good scout, or a not so good scout, to find a player. The franchise system is a money system, even though it has left many a club, even the biggest of them, deep in debt and living close to the bank despite the appearance of affluence. The clubs, particularly the European football clubs, are becoming more and more, and day by day, properties of American, Chinese, and Russian billionaires. GOOD PLAYERS COME BACK MODERN-DAY BUSINESS
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP): The Trail Blazers huddled in a timeout with just more than 17 seconds left against Oklahoma City, and the overwhelming sentiment was simple: relax. The Thunder had trimmed Portland’s lead to 110-109, but the Blazers refused to get rattled and came away with a 114-109 victory Thursday night. “Even though it got scary there at the end, we were still able to calm ourselves down and get the win,” said Damian Lillard, who finished with 33 points. Russell Westbrook scored 45 on 12-of-36 shooting for the Thunder, who had their four-game winning streak snapped. Oklahoma City newcomer Taj Gibson added 15 points, including a high-arching buzzer-beater from 61 feet away to put the Thunder up 60-57 at halftime. Alex Abrines’ 3-pointer gave the Thunder their biggest lead at 97-89 with 7:48 left, but Al-Farouq Aminu made a layup that tied it at 101 with 3:43 to go. He missed the free throw, but Jusuf Nurkic got the tip-in to give Portland the lead. Lillard’s 3-pointer extended it to 106-101 before Westbrook’s driving layup and free throw pulled Oklahoma City to 110-106. Abrines’ 3-pointer with 17.7 seconds left narrowed it to 110-109. After the timeout, Lillard was fouled twice in the final seconds and made all four free throws before Westbrook and Doug McDermott missed 3-pointers at the end. Nurkic, acquired by the Blazers just before the All-Star break in a trade with Denver, was a spark with 18 points, 12 rebounds, a career-high six assists and five blocks. “He has a good sense of the game,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. “When you have that, I think the integration goes a little bit better.” Westbrook hit all 15 of his free throws. He had eight rebounds and four assists, ending a streak of four straight triple-doubles.
Jamaica will be the only Caribbean country to host one of world football’s most prestigious trophies, the UEFA Champions League Trophy, which will be presented in an official four day tour by Heineken from March 20 to 23. The exciting affair is set for stops in parishes across the island including Kingston, Clarendon, St Ann and St James. Heineken and its partners say that they are hoping to treat the public to what they describe as an ultimate fan experience. Heineken Brand Manager, Suwannee Stewart, told The Gleaner that The Heineken UEFA Champion League Trophy Tour will be an exciting fan powered tour, with Jamaicans set to be thrilled. “This means our fans tell us what they want, and we deliver,” he said. “Heineken International decided that this year, Jamaica would be the first stop on the Global Trophy Tour. For us, that means we start the race and you know how we Jamaicans get when it comes to sports,” reasoned Stewart. Stewart implores fans and consumers across the island to get involved, and salute the trophy. “We are also bringing an international superstar in the history of the UEFA Champion League; a star baller, and a great guy, who Jamaicans will love, from the moment he steps foot on Jamaican soil,” the brand manager revealed. VIP EXPERIENCE According to Stewart, Heineken has reached out to the Jamaica Football Federation’s (JFF) Captain Horace Burrell to have the JFF be a part of the experience. “We also extend the invite to the PLCA (Premier League Clubs Association), with whom we work closely in the local Red Stripe Premier League. We are inviting the heads of the top Clubs in the League to be a part of the VIP experience, and we carefully selected venues that we knew would connect with local football fans,” he explained. Following the Jamaican tour, other countries set to receive the trophy include; Panama, Colombia, Egypt, India and Vietnam.
MADRID, Spain (AP): Rafael Nadal defeated Dominic Thiem 7-6 (8), 6-4 yesterday in the Madrid Open final to win his third straight title and continue his good form heading into the French Open. Nadal withstood a tough challenge from the ninth-ranked Thiem, converting on his fourth match point to earn his 15th straight victory on clay and tie Novak Djokovic’s record of 30 career titles in Masters 1000 events. The triumph at his home tournament gave Nadal his 72nd career title, and 52nd on clay. It was Nadal’s second straight win against the 23-year-old Austrian, coming two weeks after the Barcelona Open final when the fifth-ranked Spaniard cruised to victory in straight sets. Nadal also won in Monte Carlo last month. Nadal had easily defeated Thiem in Barcelona, losing only five games in a two-set victory, but was forced to work a lot harder yesterday. In an even first set, Nadal had to save two set points in the tiebreaker. The Spaniard converted his fifth set point of the match to take that tiebreaker and go one set up. Nadal broke early in the second set but was not able to pull away, and needed to save four break points in the final game before closing out the match. Thiem was trying to win his ninth title, and the first since winning the Rio de Janeiro tournament in the beginning of the year. It was his first final in a Masters 1000 event. Nadal has a tour-leading 34 victories in what has been a superb season following lean years for the 14-time Grand Slam champion. He also made it to three finals, losing two of them to Roger Federer, including at the Australian Open. Nadal, who was out for much of last year because of a wrist injury, has won 30 of his last 32 sets going into the tournament in Rome this week. Then he will try to win his 10th title at Roland Garros, where he won his last Grand Slam title three years ago. He defeated Djokovic in the semi finals in Madrid, snapping a seven-match winless streak against the second-ranked Serb. It was Nadal’s fifth title in eighth Madrid Open finals, and the first since 2014. His other titles came in 2005, 2010 and 2013.