Editorial: More than just playing football
Jamaica's senior footballers, fresh from creditable performances in two major tournaments, made handsome cash donations this week to three local groups that will use sports as a means of development.
We appreciate the Reggae Boyz for their continuing spirit of philanthropy most recently illustrated through this gesture of sharing some of their winnings with Special Olympics Jamaica, Manning's Boys' Home in St Elizabeth, and the Glenhope facility in Kingston.
Special Olympics is involved in training athletes with intellectual disabilities, many of whom have brought glory to Jamaica over many years with superb performances in various international sporting arenas. This donation from the Reggae Boyz is specifically designed to help to improve their football skills. Meanwhile, the other beneficiaries are among the vulnerable children to be found in state care.
That the Reggae Boyz have chosen to spread love among these vulnerable members of society is indeed very commendable in this age when some athletes are believed to be mostly interested in big earnings and care little about what is happening to the less fortunate.
It's the kind of news that stands in stark contrast to the almost daily bombardment of stories of abuse and violence against the nation's children - with the result that more than 50 have been violently killed since the start of the year. And it is the kind of positive news which reinforces the fact that sports and physical activity can be beneficial to everyday life and the development of healthy individuals.
Athletes have tremendous influence in their communities. They are adored and revered, and youngsters want to emulate their heroes. They look up to athletes, so the support and encouragement of the Reggae Boyz should prove to be a great motivational factor for these youngsters, because this kind of giving truly touches lives. There is the added bonus that, by participating in sporting activities, the youngsters will learn discipline, teamwork, focus and healthy habits.
It is commendable, therefore, that Jamaica's footballers and, indeed, many of the nation's athletes and sports personalities, have funded a variety of programmes seeking to inspire and embrace the dreams of many children and adolescents through personal foundations and various other channels.
So even though personal dedication, driving ambition and athletic prowess are what enable our youngsters to do well and command big salaries, we urge them to continue to remember the less fortunate and use their influence to effect good in the lives of those at risk of falling by the wayside. These efforts that help strengthen communities and create healthy environments must be applauded at a time of fiscal strictures that often result in cutbacks as the Government stresses the need for all sectors of society to bear the pain necessary to get our economy back on its feet.
We recommend that others who are able to follow in the footsteps of the Reggae Boyz do so by incorporating charity into their lives.