Nishida Gym seeks financial assistance
Gymnastics gymnasium owners say they need financial assistance to keep the sport alive in Jamaica during and after the coronavirus pandemic.
Nishida Gymnastics Managing Director Shin Nishida said of his 15 years of coaching in Jamaica, this is the worst financial and operational setback his gym has faced.
Nishida operates four gyms across the island that coached approximately 700 children, and they would also visit about 25 kindergarten and prep schools, but since COVID-19, less children are coming out because of the fear of contracting the virus.
He said gyms do not make enough money from the government-permitted small classes, and they are having financial difficulties keeping the gym in operation and the coaches employed.
“Realistically, we thought about closing two of our small gyms where we don’t have any children,” he said. “But we have to look at that very carefully because it will be very challenging to start back up.”
Nishida says if this situation continues, then his and other gyms may close; eventually affect the future of the sport locally.
“We are going to lose good coaches who will spend and invest in the sport, and there is no guarantee that they will come back,” Nishida said. “That will impact the development of the sport and the development of the kids.”
For this reason, Nishida is asking for financial assistance from the Ministry of Sport.
“If they can create some grants for the small businesses, then we could survive this time, so this is something that I would like them to consider right now,” he said.
Jamaica Amateur Gymnastics Association President Nicole Grant-Brown said no gym has reached out to the association for financial assistance, but even if they did, the body would not be able to help.
“The federation doesn’t have the funds to do that,” she said. “What the federation does is to allow children from any of the gyms to use their facilities at the gym.”
Grant-Brown said she is aware of the Ministry of Sport offering financial assistance and that some national senior gymnasts are set to get aid, but the federation itself has yet to apply for one of the grants.
“That is mainly because we don’t really have any international competition, per se, right now, but what we will be doing is to try and assess the whole situation,” she said.
Grant-Brown also owns and operates the Jamaica School of Gymnastics, but said her gym is not facing any financial or operational difficulties.
She said this is because of a number of factors, such as most children still coming out because parents are pleased with the gym’s strict safety protocols. The gym also does virtual classes, and coaches have agreed to take pay cuts.