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Meeting Sports Development Challenges in Jamaica

Mon 25 Sep, 2017

Carlene Edwards (from left), Sales Promotions & Events Manager, JN Bank, gestures to Babsy Grange, Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports; Carol Simpson, Head, Caribbean Section, World Intellectual Property Organisation, and Chris Stokes, first vice president, Jamaica Olympic Association.

Attracting funding to less popular sports has been one of the major challenges for the overall development of sports in our country, says Don Anderson, chairman of the Professional Football Association of Jamaica (PFAJ).

Public interest combined with success in sports, such as athletics, netball and cricket, attracts much of the limited sponsorship and other funding available locally. However, Mr Anderson noted that fundraising for small national sports federations was much more difficult.

“One of the challenges is that small national federations take a very myopic view. They tend to reach out to a small group of major sponsors who are already flooded with proposals and everyone goes to them," the former Jamaica Olympic Association executive member said.

He was speaking at the Conference on the Strategic Use of Intellectual Property in Sport, at the Jamaica Conference Centre, on September 19, where representatives from rugby, surfing and community sports bodies asked for help to get more funding.

Mr Anderson said those seeking assistance should look further afield than the country’s top ten sponsors to support their proposals. He suggested that, “There are a number of corporate and non-corporate bodies, which are prepared align themselves with these national federations.”

Carlene Edwards, sales promotions and events manager, JN Bank, said sports organisations, which are less successful in seeking sponsorship, may also consider whether their proposals for funding could be improved.

“In packaging proposals, the leadership of these organisations need to outline details about what they want you do,” Ms Edwards said. “Sometimes you get a one page proposal, and after reading it, you don’t understand what is being requested.”

“From a corporate viewpoint, when you are investing in an event or team, there must be transparency, in terms of where the funds being requested will go,” she explained, noting that, “Sports is big business.”

To attract more funding to this sector, which contributes about two percent to the country's Gross Domestic Product, and provides thousands of jobs, Miss Edwards suggested that sports organisations should, “Work together to prepare athletes for elite level performances; aim to attract major events; as well as, to grow their television and digital footprints.”

Jason Henzell, Chairman for Sports & Youth Leadership, Breds

The funding challenge prompted a decision reached at the conference that smaller sporting federations and related non-governmental bodies, should work with more experienced groups, to share their experiences and expertise.

Jason Henzell, Chairman for Sports & Youth Leadership, Breds, The Treasure Beach Foundation, told conference participants about his organisation’s success in raising more than US$1 million to support several community development initiatives, many of which are sports related. He pointed out that funds were raised from government bodies, the private sector and international donors.

“When you start to attract persons, such as: Lennox Lewis; Venus and Serena Williams to run tennis camps; and Yohan Blake, to focus on athletics” he said, “You begin to understand the importance of not only protecting our athletes, and what is rightfully due to them; but, also how to turn those elements into a marketing programme.”

The operator of Jake's Treasure Beach Hotel in St Elizabeth, Mr Henzell, was one of the conference attendees who agreed to share his Foundation's expertise with other entities in the sector.

“The importance of synergies and integration are very clearly demonstrated at this conference,” said the Hon. Olivia Grange, Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports. 

“We are guided by a policy, which promotes the integration of sports in the national economy with the creation of globally competitive products and services; as well as, the enhanced earnings of our athletes and associated industries,” Minister Grange said, in outlining the government position on sport.

She reminded participants that, “Jamaica, as a global brand, is a success story in sports.”

The conference was attended by sports administrators, coaches, athletes, support personnel and educators.