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JAAA moves to keep cash flowing into track after Bolt

Published:Monday | December 5, 2016 | 12:00 AMHubert Lawrence

Plans are afoot for the formation of the Jamaica Athletics Foundation, an organisation to raise funds for the development of track and field in Jamaica. This was revealed in an interview with Dr Warren Blake, the president of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) last week. The new entity will be reaching out to local corporate entities and Jamaicans overseas.

Speaking at his JAAA office in Kingston, Blake said he worried about the possibility of dwindling corporate support after superstar sprinter Usain Bolt retires.

"It is a concern because, as you know, Bolt himself pulls and attracts sponsorship to athletics, and people may say that when Bolt goes, there's nothing in it for us," he outlined, "so we have to convince our partners that it is worth their while to stay with us, that we're running a good ship, that we can deliver the same brand alignment that we have done in the past."

The formation of the foundation is part of the JAAA's response to that possibility.

"It's already a legal entity, the Jamaica Athletics Foundation, where we involve some top people locally and some members of the diaspora, and we have got some key people overseas involved", he said optimistically.

MONEY IS TIGHT

He doesn't expect that the Sports Development Foundation (SDF) will be able to assist much after its efforts to install a new synthetic track at the G.C. Foster College for Physical Education. "Having been head of the SDF, I know the sort of cash flow they have", he remarked, "and the money is really tight."

He is envisaging a foundation "where we can raise funds, both from corporate and a sort of crowd-funding venture, where members of the diaspora give a small amount each month".

He also revealed that his association has been able to avoid its customary year-end borrowing in 2016. "This is one of the first years in my memory since 2000 that we have not had to go to the bank to borrow to bridge that gap at this time of the year", he recalled.

To explain, he gave an insight into the JAAA cash flow that included a reference to the association's major sponsor, German sportswear firm Puma. "The money from Puma, you know, comes in tranches and, usually, at this time of the year, we are facing a serious cash flow problem," he reported. Blake said tighter management has enabled the association to avoid bank loans this year.