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Volunteers get high marks from minister

Published:Thursday | August 13, 2015 | 12:00 AMShayne Fairman
Neita-Headley

In light of the fact that the country lacks first-rate facilities and funding, Natalie Neita-Headley, minister without portfolio with responsibility for sports, credits Jamaica's impressive sports volunteerism tradition for its contribution to sports and nation building.

"We know what the processes are. They have worked for us. We've had a number of volunteers in the programme over many years," she outlined at a function to name Jamaica's representatives at the ongoing Para Pan American Games in Toronto, where Alphanso Cunningham won gold in the men's discus F51/52/53/57 on Monday.

While there is no official count of volunteers involved in Jamaica's sports programme, Neita-Headley contends the process should be a selfless one.

"Those of us who have just come on the scene in sport can't take even a small fraction of the credit which those persons would have given the time and effort ... and without resources for a long time," she stressed.

The minister also believes sponsors are critical to the growth and exposure of sports, but added that volunteers are also important.

"It's only in recent times where we would have had these sponsors who have come on board and given so much towards sports in Jamaica," she said.

Neita-Headley added that Government by itself would not be able to foster, nurture or assist the many sporting talents islandwide.

"I think our country, with a small population of under three million, the talent which we have far exceeds what we are probably able to do ... and so we continue to appeal to corporate Jamaica. Many of them come on. I think there are some top 35 corporate sponsors who have continuously been a part of a process of assisting and, had it not been for them, Jamaican sports wouldn't be where it is," she stressed.