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AMERICAN FOOTBALL IS READY TO TAKE OFF IN JAMAICA!

BY SHERDON COWAN
Observer staff reporter—-

 

Helmet ? check. Shoulder pads? check. Jamaican-born Super Bowl winner Sean Jones? check.

With all that in place, American Football in Jamaica is ready to take off. Or better yet, is set for a touchdown.

Florida-based American Football coach Nigel Dunn Jnr (right) instructs Nathan Henry (centre) of Jamaica College on how to tackle, while coach Duane Johnson, also of Jamaica College, assists in the demonstration during an American Football coaching seminar at the Old Hope Road school yesterday

Florida-based American Football coach Nigel Dunn Jnr (right) instructs Nathan Henry (centre) of Jamaica College on how to tackle, while coach Duane Johnson, also of Jamaica College, assists in the demonstration during an American Football coaching seminar at the Old Hope Road school yesterday

Jamaica has been famous for the athletic ability of its people, specifically in track and field and football. These are components that the Jamaican-American Athletic Development Organization is seeking to combine and exploit.

The non-profit organization, founded by Jamaican-born attorney Nicole Birch, is focused on rolling out three American sports to Jamaica — the first of which is the Touchdown project aimed at providing opportunities for young and skilled Jamaicans in the National Football League (NFL).

After initially completing the online certificate phase of the project, a number of coaches were yesterday treated to hands-on classroom and on-field experience, which is expected to lay the platform for the pilot project in the island.

Olivia 'Babsy' Grange

Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange

Approximately 16 schools are set to participate in the project and coaches from Buff Bay, Glenmuir, Jamaica College, Manchester High, Calabar High, Spanish Town, St George’s College, Morant Bay High, and Kingston High were the first to get the show on the road.

The project, which is in collaboration with the Minister of Sports Olivia Grange and Education Minister Ruel Reid, saw the coaches being engaged by Jones — the first Jamaican to win a Super Bowl with the Green Bay Packers — and Florida-based Jamaican-born coach Nigel Dunn Jnr, in learning the fundamentals of the sport.

Dunn Jr spearheaded the practical hands-on clinic to assess how much the local coaches had absorbed from the online certification process with a physical demonstration.

The coaches were tested in the basics of proper tackling, foot placement, safety, assessing heat illness and decision-making ability.

Ruel Reid

Ruel Reid

Rusea’s High, William Knibb, Cornwall College, Munro College, Fern Court, St Mary and Mannings High will now be the center of attention as the project makes its way to Montego Bay today.

Birch, who is a cancer survivor, said the experience triggered her commitment to giving back to the land of her birth and she is now following through.

With over 90,000 scholarships being awarded in the United States each year through American Football, Birch noted that the sheer nature of the sport and the opportunity it provides was the driving force behind the Touchdown project.

“I didn’t know what shape or form my giving back would take, but based on the talent pool and the athletic ability here in Jamaica, that is what we can offer the rest of the world.

“We are the fastest people in the world and people get excited when they hear Jamaicans participating in other sports, because a lot is expected of us because we have achieved a lot and we prove ourselves,” she told the Jamaica Observer during the coaching seminar at Jamaica College yesterday.

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Meanwhile, Dunn Jr pointed to the significance of having a successful program to introduce other Jamaicans to the National Football League (NFL).

“It was very important for me to come here and teach these young men because you see the passion.. when you are on the computer and away, you don’t know what is in somebody’s heart. But you saw the passion and the desire that they want to make a difference in our country, and I am just excited,” Dunn declared.

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