More help needed ... Corporate Jamaica players weigh in on sports development push
Corporate Jamaica has a bigger role to play in the development of Jamaican sports. That is the conviction of some of the leading players in the fraternity, who pointed to the need for proper infrastructural and personnel development support, while noting the challenges faced by the Government, which remains the main source of income for most local sporting bodies.
JN Bank Sales Promotions and Events Manager Carlene Edwards noted that while local sporting clubs and associations could be doing more to generate their own forms of funding, it is difficult without infrastructure, which she believes corporate Jamaica needs to pay more attention to improving.
"Corporate Jamaica can help in giving sporting entities a head start and trying to build out, to make whatever their offerings are more competitive and attractive, so more persons can engage in it," she said.
"Based on our offerings locally, first and foremost, it's infrastructure that really needs a lot of development. When you look at our fields, or even backroom staff, most of the sporting bodies are operating as a one-man show, and a lot of companies will not invest in that," said Edwards, whose company supports a number of sporting initiatives and events such as the Racers Grand Prix.
Edwards added that the focus should not just be on financial support, but also offering experience gained in business management, to provide local sporting bodies, including clubs and associations with the knowledge needed to market and support themselves financially.
Red Stripe is the title sponsor of the country's top football competition - the Red Stripe Premier League, and its Brand and corporate public relations manager, Stacy-Ann Smith, echoed Edwards' comments, with specific reference to local football.
"There is great potential in football, and it's the most popular game on the planet. There are many other leagues across the world which have done more in terms of merchandising and to cash in on the various aspects of the game and the love of the game. We have some way to go. The PLCA (Premier League Clubs Association) has done quite a bit of work, and I think once you can get all of the stakeholders to buy in, then there is really nothing we are not able to accomplish in sport, but there is room for improvement."
Many of the local sporting bodies, whether clubs or associations, rely heavily on financial support from the Sports Development Foundation (SDF), which operates under the Ministry of Sport. However, the SDF also has its monetary challenges.
In 2014, the SDF had a budget of just under $160 million at its disposal, but this was increased to just under $217 million for 2015. The following year's figure, however, saw a decrease on 2015's allocation by $26 million. This led to the foundation's general manager Denzil Wilks lamenting about how to share its funds among its 44 recognised local sporting bodies.
"It is a wholly inadequate budget, resulting in serious challenges for decision-making," Wilks said.
TOO MUCH PRESSURE ON GOV'T
FLOW's Vice-President of Marketing, Carlo Redwood, believes that perhaps too much is being asked of the Government, given its need to commit to other areas.
"We are all aware of the significant pressure on the national purse to support other national priorities such as education, health care, crime, poverty alleviation and the like," Redwood said.
"I, therefore, believe that the Government is doing a fair job in managing the sports development portfolio as far as maintaining junior sporting competitions and giving support to the national senior athletes and organisations. I do believe, however, that in the advent of Jamaica's recent and tremendous international success in sports, there are several funding avenues that can be pursued internationally. Similarly, like our local corporate entities, these external bodies will demand the requisite returns for their investments. Additional resources in the form of professionals in the relevant fields, will need to lend support to the Government to service these requirements."