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Commendable move by GraceKennedy

Published:Monday | September 7, 2015 | 12:00 AMLaurie Foster, Contributor

Foster's Fairplay is a lifelong fanatic of sports. As such, there is much joy at recent news.

The Sunday edition of this newspaper declared: "GraceKennedy (GK) has secured the media rights to all Inter-Secondary Schools' Sports Association (ISSA) events for the next 15 years".

The words must have resonated pleasingly with the nation's sporting people.

Absent was the price tag affixed to the acquisition of the media rights. Seldom in this local culture of secrecy are such details revealed. But who cares? If properly managed, there could be an exciting and rewarding outcome for a variety of stakeholders.

There is a rapidly developing trend towards commercialisation and professionalism among talented schoolchildren doing sports.

The system's ever-present parents, family members, past students, or mentors, are now seeking to be managers and agents.

The atmosphere was pregnant with such an announcement.

The Grace conglomerate is already spending, according to the report, "around US$1 million a year sponsoring Boys and Girls' Athletic Championships (Champs) alone".

They had to be prime suspects for this initiative. An avalanche of commendation is due them for the insight and intuition - good business sense, too, that must have been precursors to their decision.

The future of several, who are now smiling, is interlocked with the allround success of sports at this level. Hitherto, many would have felt ignored and sidelined, back-seated as they were, to the demands of other interests.

Count among those athletes and their always-committed support groups, as well as the schools who struggle to meet the demands of the mandatory involvement in character-building sporting activities.

Most important, self-serving even, include the not-to-be-discounted journalists. They carry the message to all corners.

If only one could depend on the food and finance entity on its own to move forward to the benefit of all concerned. Not so, as ISSA has a pivotal role to play in the broadening of the smiles, previously cited. As to how they will stand up as custodians of the competitions and brand, must be the question of the moment.

ISSA is the unenviable owner of an image that suggests that it will struggle to complement this gargantuan investment by the Grace people.

The corporate body is blessed with administrators who possess the foresight, freedom of thought, and the feel for sport required to successfully manage their timely input.

Where they are falling short, like any smart organisation, they are not averse to recruiting the expertise.

Is the ISSA given to that open-mindedness? Does the body with its headquarters at Lindsay Crescent, with islandwide tentacles, have the moral authority to respond with probity to this mammoth GraceKennedy initiative?

Let it not be forgotten that the CEO of GraceKennedy, on national television during Champs 2015 broadcast, made a stunning remark.

He called into question the 'transparency', or lack of it, displayed by ISSA in the distribution of tickets. As Foster's Fairplay pointed out then, that quoted word, these days, is prevalent in issues where corrupt practices are suspected.

An investigation was promised. Must these principals, in the interim, be trusted to be straight thinking or straight in anything at all?

Foster's Fairplay is confident that the Grace effort will be an extension of an ISSA often-declared mantra. It speaks to "each one help one" (bigger sport against smaller sport).

Foster's Fairplay addresses some advice to President Dr Walton Small and his team. There are some icons on whose passion and unfailing commitment what you now can sell for billions was built. They should, during the process of ticket sales, be respected and accorded due regard. Any attempt to marginalise, and in the process deny, them the right to be at Champs could bring your organisation into disrepute. Let that small-minded agenda take a back seat to the future on which you are now poised.

There is one pleasing thought. No corporate entity will allow twisted minds with selfish leanings to taint their image or stymie their advance.

These thoughts were implanted by the head of the sponsoring conglomerate and quoted earlier in this column. They came out of a public message during what was an ISSA-pock-marked CHAMPS 2015. Hope the shame stops there.

Thank you much, GKCO.

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