Fri | Jan 18, 2019

JOA leading revolution in local sports administration

Published:Monday | December 25, 2017 | 12:18 AMLeroy Brown
Allie McNab, (centre) chats with president of the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) Christopher Samuda (right) and Ryan Foster, JOA's chief executive officer at the JOA Christmas cocktail at Olympic Manor earlier this month.

A not so quiet revolution is taking place in sport administration in Jamaica, and it is being led by the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA), the umbrella organisation that is responsible for all the Olympic sports in Jamaica. There are now 41 affiliated organisations.

There was a change of administration in June this year, when attorney Christopher Samuda took over the reigns of office from veteran administrator Mike Fennell, who was president for a record 40 years. While Samuda and his team were campaigning for office, they promised far-reaching changes, some of which seemed far-fetched. After six-months in office, however, they have delivered on several promises that were made before the elections, and seem set to not only blaze a trail of excellence, but to pull the 41 associated organisations along with them. This is great news for sport in Jamaica.

When the Samuda team's Manifesto was laid out before the elections, one of the promises that was made then, was that the JOA would be run as a business, and steps have been taken to make this a reality. President Samuda and recently appointed Chief Executive Officer Ryan Foster, have now laid out a plan of action for the next several years.

Speaking to The Gleaner, Samuda said, "the JOA is an organisation that has 41 affiliated organisations. That is huge. We therefore have to operate in a business-like manner, and that is what we have set out to do. If we are running a business, we must have a CEO, and that is what we have done. We have been fortunate to find a good, bright young man, who has already made his mark in Corporate Jamaica. He has brought these skills to the JOA and we will benefit from his expertise."

Continuing, he  said, "Sport is big business. It is in fact an industry, and the main asset is the athlete. We have to recognise this and act accordingly. The JOA also wants to be an Employer of Choice. People must want to work with us. The CEO we recruited, has bought into our vision. He has corporate and business skills that will drive the JOA to a place of eminence, and we expect a lot from him. I am sure that he is going to deliver." 

He also had a word to the various associations, urging them to be less dependent, to do more to help themselves, and to put themselves on a path of development.  A major  goal of the new JOA he said "is to have representation in nine sports at the 2020 Olympic Games. It can be done, and if there is full co-operation, it will be done" he added.

The new CEO is in full agreement with this and has promised to suggest ways in which Associations can assist themselves. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) he said, recommends that all associations be properly structured.

With the JOA taking the lead and giving assistance where possible, "this will be done". He is also "encouraging associations to work closely with each other", and suggested that presenting a united front to sponsors could reap big dividends. He is also recommending that associations " give thought to having shared events which are attractive to the public. Give it a try, it can work" he said.

Sponsors he pointed out "wanted value for the money spent, and associations should keep this in mind and make their events more attractive. Having been on the other side, as one whose companies were frequently asked to sponsor events in the past, I know how it felt and what sponsors needed to justify their sponsorship.The JOA will give guidance in this regard"  he offered.

A Strategic Plan for the JOA has already been prepared, he volunteered, and it will be implemented in two phases, one to the end of 2018 and the other to 2020. One of the main goals in this plan is to refurbish the current headquarters at Cunningham Avenue to create Olympic Manor, which is projected to be a Business and Training Facility. "We hope to re-brand and re-target  collectively" he added, and said that he is urging all associations to play their part in making this effort a success.