Minister with responsibility for sports, Natalie Neita-Headley, is renewing her call for the private sector to give more support to sports development in Jamaica
Neita-Headley, speaking at the launch of the CB Group/UWI Walk/Run yesterday, said the run would fund scholarships for needy young sportspersons to perhaps become the next great Jamaican sports figure.
"As we look forward to Rio 2016 and that vision of broadening the circle of sports that Jamaica will participate in, it is time for the sponsors to step up to the plate and create the opportunity to unearth the new talent," she said.
Neita-Headley said the support must not only be at the scholastic level for individuals, but also in support of sporting programmes whether in clubs or sporting organisations.
"If as a nation we hope to achieve success in sport, then it cannot even be dreamt of without the support and leadership offered by the private sector," she added.
Neita-Headley thanked the Canada-based Grand Jamaica Homecoming group which is making the event one of its legacy projects for Jamaica 50.
"You have found a way to unearth new reasons for us to continue to find patriotic pride," she said. The minister felt the scholarships would provide opportunities in both education and sports.
"The University of the West Indies has been a leader in both these fields and we commend Grace Jackson (UWI sports development director) and the team from the sports department ... for their sterling contribution. That contribution is now bearing fruit not just in track and field, but in a wide variety of sporting disciplines."
Opposition Leader Andrew Holness said philanthropy was a very important part of national development but suggested it must be attached to a worthy cause like education. He said the UWI sports programme matched that. He also encouraged better sport management in creating marketing figures out of our sports people.
"It is critical that while we have developed the training expertise here, we are now trying to develop the sporting infrastructure. We must now spend some time in developing the athlete management capabilities. This adds a new dimension to our athletes."