Dalton Myers | We must strengthen our sporting associations
There is always the feeling that national sporting associations can do more to develop their respective sports in Jamaica. However, the heads (Presidents, Coordinators, Chairmen) of these associations are heard repeatedly in the media asking for more support from Government as well as the private sector, usually to host an event or send a team overseas. It makes you wonder sometimes: Do we have too many sports or sporting organisations for such a small country? I will not take on that question now:
Instead, I want to suggest that without proper organisation and governance structures, most of our national sport organisations (NSOs) will struggle in developing their respective sports in the medium to long term.
The main thrust for national sports associations is to develop sports through various channels, including event planning, training and workshops, community outreach, grass-roots programmes as well as participating in local, regional and international competitions.
In Jamaica, there are approximately forty-one (41) NSOs, which are recognised by the Sports Development Foundation (SDF), with some associations not registering for various reasons. The SDF, the government funding organisation for sport, is the main source of revenue for most associations, distributing approximately J$217,000,000 in the financial year ending 2015 to local bodies. However, while we punch above our weight in some categories, we are woefully inadequate in others. You may attribute this to a lack of funding from Government but I posit that a real challenge is the urgent need to improve our NSOs. What needs to be done you may ask:
- Greater transparency in operations which would result in increased public trust
- More accountability from Board and Executive members
- More effective and efficient use of the best available technology and management tools at our disposal
- Board members accepting responsibility especially in the face of negative criticism and offering ways to improve
- Building capacity in terms of human resources and putting the right people in the right places
- Greater emphasis on working towards self sufficiency as well as greater income generation.
Instead, in many cases you find weaknesses in governance structures, little maximising of available financial resources, no well thought out strategic plan and a lack of any proper oversight. I am fully aware that one major challenge to any development in sport is that over 90 per cent of our NSOs are managed and governed by volunteers. They usually have full-time jobs elsewhere or are self-employed. This then makes it difficult to ask them to dedicate the number of hours needed to improve the association and sport in general.
However, there are some low hanging fruits, that can improve our NSOs and, ultimately, our sport industry.
1. We must engage our young , trained sport administrators. Many are graduating yearly from GC Foster College, University of Technology, Jamaica, and so on.
2. Each association needs to develop and implement strategic and operational plans, that focus on short, medium and long-term goals.
3.There needs to be more focus on grass-roots programmes especially youth academies.
4. Greater emphasis also needs to be placed on the transfer of institutional knowledge. Too often, it is just one, or a few people who know anything about the organisation and can hold it to ransom.
Need for focus
Associations are very important. We have to be more focused and business-driven. We have to help our members attain relevant qualifications and skills and participate in regional and international workshops and conferences.
Now, I am not talking about sending persons on overseas development workshop 'trips' who upon return, know less than my wife, who (while watching a very intense NBA Final) once asked me how many quarters are in a basketball game. We need those who will use the knowledge and contacts gained to make the association better.
Let us build these associations. Too often, the only time we hear about a national sport association is when there are controversial issues, but then again, what do I know?
- Dalton Myers is a sports consultant, administrator, and lecturer. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org