Captive audience for a winning idea

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However, the authorities have encouraged some of them to seek early parole. How? Well, like Samson Thaveesuk, literally to fight their way out of prison.

She is the WBC’s light-flyweight world champion and because she is now one of Thailand’s best ever boxers, she was given early release and has embraced a new career, her old one of selling drugs on the streets a thing of the past.

In Thailand, man or woman, if you have the ability to represent your country at boxing, they will give you every encouragement to spend as much time in the ring as the cell they have locked you up in. In so many ways it seems a bizarre way to breed world champions, but then again, if it changes the person you are, I suppose it has merit.

I am reminded of how, in a very different vein, La Moye Prison has, over the years, tried to give their ‘guests’ the chance to redeem themselves through sport.

Last November, for example, the Jersey Billiards and Snooker Association organised a pool and snooker tournament featuring some of the Island’s best players against La Moye inmates in a handicap challenge. And the Jersey Cricket Board won the global ICC Spirit of Cricket award for taking the game to inmates at La Moye.

Continuing this sporting theme, Jersey community development officer Dave Kennedy has been coaching footballers at La Moye every Tuesday to enable them to gain Introduction to Football Coaching certificates. So successful has been the course that one of the groups he has been taking has been selected for a Level Two qualification.

Writing about it in the JEP, reporter Richard Heath said: ‘For some, including hardened drug dealers and violent criminals, it is a daunting task. For the inmates the sessions are about much more than football – they are a chance to develop life skills which they can put to use when they eventually find themselves on the right side of La Moye’s gates.’

Nikki Holmes, deputy head of learning at La Moye prison, said: ‘The course has improved confidence and self-esteem and has taught the inmates how to work together and organise themselves.’

Too often, prison is seen as somewhere we lock away the bad guys, before we release them back into society a few years later – after which they sometimes offend again.

Personally, I like the Thai idea of breeding world champion boxers from inside prison walls, but if Jersey can’t quite make this culture leap from convicted felon to world champion, I would much rather my taxpayer’s money was spent on educating prisoners to coach a team game, because in my experience, one of the reasons why people don’t stray into crime is not the fear of the law, it’s the fear of upsetting their friends.

As Nikki Holmes pointedly remarked about Dave Kennedy’s tremendous initiative: ‘It’s all about working as a team – and not letting your mates down.’

What’s in a name? Quite a lot, actually …

IT had to come at some point, of course – to suggest that we give a red card to the Muratti because the name is that of a tobacco manufacturer.

I am sure that of the thousands and thousands of kids who have been to the big match over the years, none of them, either in Jersey or Guernsey, ever thought: ‘A vase dedicated to cigarettes!’ before immediately rushing out to buy a packet of fags.

Unlike the names of many other competitions sponsored by Island companies, Muratti has a particularly nice ring to it. So does the Siam Cup – although the number of Siamese players who have ever taken part in the rugby inter-insular is, as far as I can ascertain, zero.

As a sports writer who on occasions has to include the names of one or more trophies dedicated to local sponsors, I would much rather use Muratti or Siam than the equivalent of the JR Highrise and Sons Scaffolding Company and Associate Building Contractors Channel Islands Limited Trophy – which although imaginary is close to some of the titles of competitions we have reported on in the past.

May the Siam Cup and the Uptons continue well into the 21st century – and may the Muratti, in particular, never be allowed to disappear in a puff of smoke.

Paying the cost of crossing that pond

Having recently rebooked a flight to the UK with a well-known airline at a cost which actually exceeded the amount of the tickets I had purchased in the first place, I can sympathise with those Island netballers who have had to pay a £50 administration fee to reclaim £46.10 in unpaid airport taxes.

I cannot, however, complain too bitterly, and for one simple reason: the way the Island’s economy is closing in on us at the moment, there’ll soon be only one airline left to fly us to the UK, anyway.

But, dear netballers, if it’s any consolation, to change my booking dates and to make the new booking out in my daughter’s name came to £86. And the initial flights? Going there and coming back was £30 cheaper.

On the subject of netball, congratulations to Convent for winning this year’s league title. They deserved to do so, although what was interesting this year, compared to years past, was that this was very much a team performance. There was no one outstanding player who won the league for the Convent girls, which in a team game is just how it ought to be.

Karters need to be put on the right track

MANY years ago I used to love the go-karting track at Belle Vue. Nowadays, there is more humble fare, at Sorel Point.

However, instead of all of the negativity about go-karting, would the authorities please fulfil a promise they made almost 20 years ago and allow the karters to have their own track, which they have applied to build at Crabbé?

For those too young to remember the days when karters would race around the purpose-built circuit at Les Quennevais (even then a built-up area), they were promised that when they redeveloped the area, another kart track, just as good, would be found for them.

Since then, however, that promise hasn’t been fulfilled and the authorities appear to be making life intolerably difficult for a sport which has to submit something like 15 different reports before planning permission is even considered for those who simply want to go round a purpose-built course in the backwaters of St Mary – in go-karts, we are told, that make no more noise than a half-decent strimmer.

Why not let the racing bikes take town by storm?

ONE of the most exciting new sporting prospects for May is the initiative by Vélo Sport Jersey, the Caesarean Cycling Club and the Jersey Cycling Association to host international cycle racing in the heart of St Helier on Sunday 24 May.

It’s great news that the initiative has been given the thumbs-up both by the British Cycling Federation and St Helier Constable Simon Crowcroft, and the reason why I’m so keen on the idea is that of all the sports held when Jersey staged the 1997 Island Games, the town criterium was the best.

At times, sports reporting is a privilege, because you enjoy so much what you’re paid to do. On that particular occasion, standing outside the Pomme d’Or Hotel and watching the cyclists whizzing past was a delight that will live with me for years.

St Helier is a town built for fast, action-packed cycle races such as the one envisaged by Tony Moffa, Chris Spence and friends, and my only surprise is that no-one has put together the equivalent of such a competition, or series of competitions, before.

Jersey has a tremendous history of cycling championships, virtually all of them local, so why not invite the best cyclists first from Britain, and then from Europe, to compete around our town roads?

So on that

particular Sunday I, for one, will be out there, cheering every competitor on.

When it really is time to go

His official title was ‘executive director (football)’, but in truth Dennis Wise’s more realistic title should probably be ‘very lucky man’.

The ex-Newcastle FC football adviser has pocketed £3 million for a year’s ‘work’ at the club, although during that time, what has he done to justify earning more than a penny of it?

I never liked Wise as a player and to this day can’t fathom how he survived at Newcastle when managers and players with proven track records came and went so quickly. To my mind, he should have gone and they should have stayed.

However, the one thing Wise always had as a player was stickability and that annoying, terrier-like habit of biting at your ankles when everyone else had given it up as a bad job and gone away.

Deserved success for rugby heroes

I WOULD like to pay tribute to Jersey Rugby Club for finishing third in their first outing in London I. That is no mean achievement, as Jersey are now competing with the big boys at national level.

I have never told him so, but Ben Harvey is a very, very good coach and Jersey are extremely lucky to have him (although Ben himself insists that there is no such thing as luck in competitive sport).

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