Ryon Jones, Sunday Gleaner Writer
Red Stripe, the sponsor of the National Premier League, has embarked on an initiative to sensitise players that ply their trade in the country's top-flight football competition about the importance of always projecting themselves in a professional manner.
The beverage manufacturer, which signed on for three years as sponsors of the league in November of last year, hosted a four-hour media training seminar at its head office last Thursday to which three players from each of the 12 Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) clubs were invited. Only six clubs seized the opportunity, however, sending two players each.
"Our responsibility as title sponsor of the Red Stripe Premier League is not only to provide funding for the PLCA (Premier League Clubs Association) and the clubs to be able to run and function," Red Stripe's public relations manager, LeVaughn Flynn, pointed out. "We also want to help in the overall development of the players, and this is one area where we saw we could make an immediate impact in helping the players to understand and be more aware of how to conduct themselves as professional athletes when they are interacting with the media, and how they represent their clubs and communities."
The insightful lecture under the theme 'Communicating the Right Image on and off the Field' was presented by broadcaster and communications specialist Paula-Anne Porter-Jones, who was assisted by Judith Bodley and Adrian Atkinson.
The players who were on hand to engage in the lively discussions and practical exercises were Newton Sterling and Rohan Reid (Arnett Gardens), Oneil Thompson and Xavian Virgo (Boys' Town), Richard Edwards and Joel Senior (Harbour View), Anthowe Dawkins and Ralston Robinson (Highgate United), Kevin Lamey and Peter Harrison (Humble Lion), and Jason Watson and Jermaine Ricketts (Waterhouse).
The focus of the lecture was to help the players to better understand that what they do is more than just playing football, but actually a profession and, therefore, the image that they present should always be a professional one. The presenters went about doing this by emphasising the importance of speech, appearance and attitude.
"Today's session was to sensitise them (players) to the fact that regardless of the situation, their mood or the result of the game that they just played, their response needs to be a professional response," Porter-Jones explained.
"It was to help them to understand what it is the media need from them and to better equip them to also exact some amount of benefit from their interaction with the media as well," she added.
Porter-Jones is of the view that local players need to be cognisant of the importance of speaking English when interacting with the media, as they are communicating with an international audience. She also stressed that it is important for athletes to be mindful of their image and the significance of non-verbal communication.
The seminar - which Red Stripe plans on staging again at the beginning of next season, with St James being the likely host parish - was well received by the players.
"It is something that we appreciate as players because it enhances professionalism and anything that teaches you to be a better individual is something that we have to hold on to because it is for the betterment of our career," Reid expressed.
Edwards shared what stood out most to him.
"The main thing that stands out for me is the need to be professional about everything I do."
CAPTION: Red Stripe's brand public relations manager, LeVaughn Flynn (third right), makes a point to several Red Stripe Premier League players at a media-training seminar held at Red Stripe's offices last Thursday. Listening are (from left) Humble Lion's Peter Harrison, Harbour View's Richard Edwards, Highgate United's Anthowe Dawkins, Xavian Virgo of Boys' Town, Waterhouse's Jermaine Ricketts, and Ralston Robinson of Highgate United. - Contributed