Tue | Apr 7, 2020

Dalton Myers | Sports mentorship safeguards the future

Published:Monday | February 24, 2020 | 12:20 AM
GC Foster College of Physical Education and Sport principal Maurice Wilson walks the running track on campus based in Spanish Town, St Catherine. The institution is responsible for the training of many of Jamaica’s athletes, coaches and sporting administrators.
GC Foster College of Physical Education and Sport principal Maurice Wilson walks the running track on campus based in Spanish Town, St Catherine. The institution is responsible for the training of many of Jamaica’s athletes, coaches and sporting administrators.

The future of sport in Jamaica, and, by extension, the Caribbean, depends heavily on the investments we are willing to make now. However, the more I think about it, the more I am inclined to believe that the future of sport depends heavily on mentoring the next generation of sport administrators, athletes, and so on.

It may seem simple, but many of the challenges we now face are due to a breakdown in proper planning, poor organisational structure, an incoherent sports system, and no proper succession planning for administrators, among others. With many graduates being turned out by local tertiary institutions, as well as those studying overseas, you would think there would be a gradual progression to the next set of leaders in sport. If history is anything to go by, the more things change, the more they will remain the same unless we plan properly.

Now, I am not talking specifically about age or gender here and won’t get drawn into the discourse about ‘old versus young’. It’s simply that now is a good time to start thinking about succession and that succession planning must include mentorship.

There is a plethora of literature that points to the positive impact of mentorship in sport. This is a similar concept to what happens in the corporate world and can be applied to sport in Jamaica. There is peer-to-peer mentorship for athletes as well as coaches mentoring athletes as part of their development. The mentorship of women in sport is also important in helping to empower women and girls, including emerging leaders who are often restricted by the proverbial glass ceiling.

Mentoring the next set of sports administrators for the future is also important. This is always tricky because we are mentoring someone for a future that may look totally different from what exists now. However, proper planning, mentorship, and succession are crucial to building our local sporting industry. I have been fortunate to have some great mentors over the years, but I am also cognisant of the fact that several of our current administrators hold on to information more than the oxygen they breathe.

There are some who argue that young prospective sports administrators lack the competencies, or they have not paid their ‘dues’ as yet. However, that is exactly why mentorship programmes and succession planning are important. Many of the top administrators we have come to know in Jamaica are retiring and may not be around in a few years. I would hate to think the wealth of knowledge would go with them as we have seen in some instances before.

UNIQUE WAY OF THINKING

The other point to note is that we have to allow the younger generation of sports administrators to gradually take over but apply their unique way of thinking and managing sport. Sometimes all that is needed is just some guidance. Incidentally, there are some national associations that are trying to make that difference, but collectively, there is so much more to be done.

I think there are some very young, intelligent coaches and administrators who are graduating from our tertiary institutions in Jamaica who can be the difference. What happens in many cases is that they grow frustrated and go into other professions, avoiding sports because of lack of opportunities.

More internship opportunities need to be created for young sports administrators in national associations as well as government institutions and boards. Some have already started, but many more opportunities are needed. We could implement mentorship programmes either through the Government or private sector to assist in developing new administrators. The sporting industry is expansive, and increasingly, there are more opportunities for athlete managers, agents, sport lawyers, nutritionists, academics, sports media practitioners, facility managers, coaches, sales and marketing personnel, community development officers, et cetera, who play a crucial role in sports management and administration. So I am not just talking about the national sport federation boards or committees, but several other areas are opening up, and we have to be prepared to capitalise on these opportunities.

So as we move forward, let us think of more ways we can advance our sport industry by mentoring the next set of coaches and leaders in sport. Sport is diverse, with several people who are in charge of different areas. Let us share the knowledge we have so that we can improve each year.

Dalton Myers is a sports consultant and host of The Drive Phase Podcast. Sendfeedback to daltonsmyers@gmail.com or tweet @daltonsmyers