Wed | Sep 26, 2018

Dalton Myers | JOA and funding of sport associations

Published:Saturday | May 26, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) secretary general Alan Beckford (centre) speaking with JOA first vice president, Chris Stokes (right) at a press briefing to announce the country's delegation to the recent 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia. At left is JOA director Robert Scott. The Games took place in Gold Coast, Australia April 4-15.

There is a constant need for financial support for sports activities in Jamaica, and in most cases, a constant request for help from National Sport Organisations (NSOs). The recent move by the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) to professionalise the organisation, on the face of it, seems to be a very good one.

So far, the Christopher Samuda-led board has appointed a chief executive officer, a business development manager, a corporate communications specialist, office manager among others. However, it is the new thrust of increasing financial support for governing bodies that has really captured the attention of many onlookers.

The JOA has provided just over J$50 million to more than 17 NSOs over the past six months. This funding support has been allocated to the respective governing bodies including badminton, boxing, tae kwon do, triathlon, basketball, rowing, netball, rugby, squash, cycling, table tennis, volleyball, hockey, and football. It also complements the efforts of other major sponsors, donors and the Sports Development Foundation (SDF). This is very important as we are familiar with the continuous public outcry from national bodies for financial support. While I would imagine there is need for more support, I am sure this move will go a far way in assisting their needs.

What is very clear is that the funds being disbursed should help develop both the traditional and non-traditional sports in Jamaica. Some associations have been given financial assistance to host sports events that attract some of the best local and international competitors.

These events are avenues that can develop and enhance local talent such as the Jamaica Badminton Association's International Badminton Tournament. Other assistance has been allocated to associations to cover expenses for transportation, airfare, nutrition, and accommodation for teams. At a recent media conference, the JOA outlined its partnership with the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) to prepare a team to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. This push to aid in sports development and Olympic qualification is unprecedented and commendable.

This is not the first time the JOA is giving financial support to sporting organisations, either directly or indirectly through the support of athletes or administrators via the Olympic Solidarity Fund.

 

Unprecedented funding

 

However, this is the first time we are seeing this magnitude of funding, as well as getting an understanding of how it will benefit the average athlete. Most Jamaicans usually believe that JOA funding only goes to the respective teams for regional and international games such as CAC Games, Pan Am Games, Commonwealth Games, or the Olympics (Winter, Summer). We can appreciate the fact that the financial assistance is geared at not just preparation for these Games, but is also aimed at building our local bodies.

Why is this important? Well , upon taking up office, JOA CEO Ryan Foster suggested that the Olympic body would seek to 'expand the sponsorships and partnership, of our sporting associations and the JOA". Therefore, this new thrust builds on that commitment. It,therefore means that with such significant support, we should see improved performances in most of our sports.

The positives for this are very evident:

- Improvements from our athletes as they compete in global competitions

- Continued record numbers qualifying for future multi-sport games in the short and medium term

- More structured events being hosted by our associations

- More opportunities for support for grass-roots programmes

- More professional development programmes for athletes and administrators.

My only worry is that without governance reforms and constitutional changes in some national associations, the increased funding may not actually create any meaningful development in many areas.

What is clear is that this support by the JOA augurs well for the development of sports in Jamaica. It also shows that the focus is not only on secretariat functions for major Games, but also strategic planning for developing sports as part of the Olympic Charter. This dispels the notion that the JOA does not help with sports development.

Based on what we see so far, there seems to be a new thrust at Cunningham Avenue to play a significant role in capacity building, sport infrastructure, development, and athlete development. I am happy about this and hope that more resources can be garnered to support the many projects and ideas that languish due to inadequate funding.

- Dalton Myers is a sports consultant and administrator. Email feedback to daltonsmyers@gmail.com