Schoolboy football, the revenue stream * - …. gate receipts doing wonders for many schools*
When the 2015 FLOW/
ISSA Schoolboy Football season kicks off at the Catherine Hall Stadium, Montego Bay, this coming Saturday afternoon with a triple-header, for many schools, it will not only be about football, it will be a window to generate much needed income.
With schools barred from using the grants from the Ministry of Education to finance their sports programmes, many schools, especially those without an active past-student network, have had to be relying on gate receipts from schoolboy football to help fund their internal and external sports programmes.
"Schools are forbidden from using the grants from the Ministry of Education to finance their sporting programmes, so if they want to have a vibrant sports programme, they have to generate their own funding," said former St James High School principal Jeannette Solomon. "The gate receipts from football allow schools to provide students with the type of exposure they get from sports."
Keith Wellington, the principal of the St Elizabeth Technical High Schools (STETHS), which is easily one of the nation's most illustrious schools when it comes to phenomenal accomplishments in sporting disciplines such as cricket, football, and track and field, is one principal who understands the importance of gate receipts in helping to drive sports.
"While we have a history of doing very well in sports across the board, football is the only sports through which we earn in terms of gate receipts," Wellington told Western Focus. "So you can well understand how important it is for us to get good support from the community at our football games."
In fact, at school like STETHS, a perennial finalist in the Headley Cup cricket competition and the DaCosta Cup football, their sports budget easily runs into millions of dollars. As a consequence, gate receipts mean a lot to the school's administration.
In recognition of the fact that not all schools will be able to generate the excitement required to attract large crowds to their games, Wellington, who is a top executive at ISSA, says that the organisation has crafted a strategic plan to ensure that each school gets at least one big gate receipts payday per season.
"When STETHS play away to one of the weaker teams in our zone, it allows that school to get good gate receipts because STETHS usually attract good crowd support," said Wellington. "While all the schools will not benefit equally during the season, we ensure that all the schools get a chance at one good payday."
Even the schools with a solid past student network still look to gate receipts, which at times satisfy needs such as helping needy students with lunch, books, and even school uniforms.
"We get auxiliary support from our past students who are doctors and coaches as they help with medical support and coaching," a former top western Jamaica coach told Western Focus. "However, we use some of our gate receipts to buy lunches, school uniforms, and books for needy students. I am sure some of it also goes into the buying of school supplies."
Like the school administrators, ISSA, the governing body for high school sports in Jamaica, sees the Manning Cup and the daCosta Cup as important revenue-generating streams.
"Outside of Champs (the annual ISSA Boys and Girls' Athletics Championship), our greatest source of revenue generation is schoolboy football," said George Forbes, the competition's director at ISSA. "However, most of the monies go back to the schools to run their sports programmes."
According to Forbes, while all the schools might not be able to generate big money through gate receipts, some schools, especially those with established rivalries, have the potential to generate hefty returns.
"In the instances where there are strong rivalries such as a Montego Bay derby between Cornwall College and St James High or a St Elizabeth derby between St Elizabeth Technical High School and Munro College, the potential for significant revenue generation is great," said Forbes. "We are only too happy to be able to assist the schools to generate revenue to help them to run their sports programmes."