WESTERN BUREAU: Known for producing prodigious talent in football, netball, cricket, and track and field, Jamaica could one day become a world beater in baseball. Yes, that great American pastime could take root in the land of wood and water if former San Francisco Giants baseball player Andrew Dixon has anything to do with it. Dixon recently told The Gleaner of his intention to kickstart a national youth baseball league in Jamaica. With plans well advanced, Dixon has earmarked the league to commence by the end of January 2016. Games will be played in Kingston and Portmore, as well as in the western end of the island. When contacted, the Jamaica-born outfielder said that the league, the first of its kind, is being organised in partnership with the Jamaica Baseball Association (JBA). He explained that the groundwork is currently being done, with some 12 teams already signed up to participate. “It’s looking good because in December I brought some uniforms down,” said Dixon, adding that he is back home in the USA gathering some equipment to send to Jamaica in time to start the league. “In June, I want to bring down some teams from the US, Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. By then, our youths would be playing the sport so we can pick an all-star team for Jamaica and let them play against the foreigners,” he further outlined. Dixon has also accepted a coaching position to teach the game for a few months at G.C. Foster College. MORE EXPOSURE He noted that he will be organising a number of baseball clinics at Treasure Beach in St Elizabeth, Montego Bay, and in other parts of the island as his dream is to see baseball become a major sport in Jamaica. “Right now, western Jamaica has some of the best baseball guys, but they are not getting the exposure. The attention is in the Kingston and Portmore areas,” the 51-year-old remarked. “If we can open up and bring baseball throughout the island, then kids out here will get more exposure and develop a new career path,” added Dixon. Apart from working with the Jamaica Baseball Association, Dixon stated that he has several partners in Westmoreland, who are excited and willing to ensure the promotion of the sport in western Jamaica. He is also calling on corporate Jamaica to get on board and make the dream happen. Dixon, who has been running a number of low-key baseball clinics and camps in some western-based communities in recent years, namely, Treasure Beach in St Elizabeth, Darliston and Little London in Westmorland, has also tried launching the sport in Kingston. Dixon left the San Francisco Giants in 1991, then had a stint with the Milwaukee Brewers. He also played professional baseball in Mexico and Venezuela.
Western Bureau:Three-time Olympian Sherone Simpson says she is on track to possibly run the fastest time she has in over a year, as she steps up preparations for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.Simpson, who was keynote speaker at the launch of this year’s Milo Western Relays Carnival yesterday at the Holy Trinity Church in Montego Bay, said she is fit and happy and is awaiting the national senior team trials, which is used to select athletes for major championships.”I think I am. I am healthy, and all aspects of my training have been improving, so I am very happy with that right now,” the Olympian told The Gleaner.”I am so confident, and my physical and mental readiness is there, so I am looking forward to what is ahead,” she said.Simpson, a multiple relay gold-medal winner as part of Jamaica’s 4x100m relay at the 2004 Games in Athens, Greece, and again at the World Championship in Beijing, China, in 2015, says that she is focusing on being technically sound.A fully fit and strong Simpson is in line to shatter the 10.95 seconds she won gold with at the Pan American Games last year in Toronto, Canada.RELAYS FAVOURITESimpson is expected to be part of coach Maurice Wilson’s Sprint Tech 4x100m relays team, as she set her sights on doing the double at Rio. As is now the norm, she will be using the Milo Western Relays as a launching pad for what is expected to be a very busy 2016.Excited at the prospects, Simpson acknowledged that if she qualifies for a fourth Olympics, it will be a pleasing achievement.”I would be so humbled. It would be unreal if I should make the Games, especially in the 100m and 200m,” she added.”So I am working hard towards that, and it will be such a blessing for me, and I would be so happy,” she stated.The 38th staging of the Milo Western Relays is set for the Catherine Hall Sports Complex in Montego Bay on Saturday, February 13.
WESTERN BUREAU:Six matches are down to be contested on the opening weekend of the new season of the Trelawny FA Monymusk Plantation Major League, with the clash between Duanvale and League newcomers Fire FC grabbing the most attention today.Duanvale were in the running for the title last year, but faltered close to the end, which allowed Clarks Town to steal a march on them and lift the title. Clarks Town are now competing in the Western Confederation Super League.Fire FC are stepping up in class after lifting the Division One crown last season and will want a good start to life in the Major League.Duanvale, on the other hand, will feel they have the edge, especially since they will be playing on familiar turf at the Duanvale Sports Ground and will be keen on kicking off the season with a victory.In the other matchups today, Holland FC tackle Bunker Hill at Elleston Wakeland Centre, Spicy Hill host Kinloss at Georgia Sports Ground, and former champions, Harmony, meet Classic United at Bounty Hall Sports Ground. All matches will kick off at 3 p.m.Early favourites Baca Star United will bow into action tomorrow against an expectedly tough Daniel Town FC at the Elleston Wakeland Centre, while Coopers Pen host Rio Bueno in the day’s other fixture, also at 3 p.m.The 12-team league is broken down into two zones, with teams in each zone playing each other twice, after which, the top team on points in each zone will play for the mid-season trophy.The competition continues thereafter with the cross-zone matches. Teams in zone one will play those in zone two once, after which, the top four with the most points will contest the semi-finals.Today’s matchesn Holland Utd vs Bunker Hill SCat Elleston Wakeland Centren Duanvale FC vs Fire FC atDuanvale Sports Groundn Spicy Hill FC vs Kinloss FC atGeorgia Sports Groundn Harmony FC vs Classic Utd atBounty Hall Sports GroundTomorrow’s gamesn Baca Star Utd vs Daniel Town FC at Elleston Wakeland Centren Coopers Pen vs Rio Bueno at Coopers Pen Sports Ground
ZURICH (AP):At one minute past six on Friday evening in Zurich, Sepp Blatter had a glass of white wine and exhaled deeply.FIFA had finally elected a new president and Blatter was relieved of the title after almost 18 years.”It is a relief. I had this burden on me,” he told The Associated Press yesterday, seeming at peace and enjoying his first day out of FIFA’s employment since 1975.”It was even a welcome day yesterday, 18:01, when they had a new president,” Blatter said in the European style for 6:01 p.m.Blatter was unable to hand over power in person to Gianni Infantino, 35 years younger and a fellow native of the rural Valais canton in Switzerland.Banned from duty since October by FIFA’s ethics committee, Blatter was barred from attending the election hall across the city from his daughter’s apartment. There, they watched the tense event unfold on television.When the moment came that his beloved presidency ended, Blatter said he was with his daughter, Corinne, sharing a bottle of white wine from his home region.POTENTIAL NEW DAWNThe election was hailed as a potential new dawn for FIFA after nine months of turmoil since American and Swiss federal prosecutors revealed the scope of their investigations into corruption, which forced Blatter out with three years left in his fifth presidential term.On the day after, there are clear blue skies, but the crisply cold air on a hill overlooking Zurich left the 79-year-old Blatter feeling the chill during several minutes spent outside with the newspaper photographer.”It was important for FIFA to have a change,” said Blatter.”He is a young man, he is powerful, he has a lot of energy, and I am sure he will do the right job,” Blatter said of Infantino, a former lawyer.
SHARJAH, United Arab Emirates (CMC): Power hitter Johnson Charles has described the West Indies as an improving side, with less than a week before the start of the ICC T20 World Cup in India. Charles played a brilliant match-winning knock as West Indies beat Zimbabwe by 10 wickets to win their two-match T20 Series 2-0 at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Monday night. The powerful opener smashed 92 not out off just 48 balls with six big sixes and 10 boundaries to be named Man-of-the-Match. “Tonight (Monday) I had a good batting pitch. The ball was coming on nice. Not much sideways movement. I just decided to stick to what I know. I am a power hitter so I did just that,” Charles explained. “We have moved from strength to strength. From the first game we have been improving in this game we have improved a lot more. We just look to improve as the games go by and hopefully we can go into the World Cup with everybody in form and we could win this World Cup,” he said. Windies motored to a victory target of 154 without loss after the Zimbaweans made 153-7 off 20 overs. The best bowler was seamer Carlos Brathwaite with 3-23, which helped to restrict the innings after a solid start. Charles’ opening partner, Andre Fletcher, made 56 not out off 35 balls with three sixes and five fours, on a good batting surface. “We are best friends and we come from the same team,” said Charles. “We always speak to each other at the wicket and keep complimenting each other. We just motivated each other to do the best that we can.” The St.Lucian cricketer was a member of the West Indies Cricket team which captured the T20 World Cup in Sri Lanka four years ago. He was not named on the original squad, but was called up as a replacement for Darren Bravo, who pulled out citing the need to focus on developing his game in the longer format. “I just see it as me coming back for my place and that’s just how I see it,” said Charles. “With that said everything is left to the Almighty Father and that is what he saw as fit and that’s what happens. So I am just going to do what I have to do now that I am here.”