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UNESCO approves funds for sports study

Published:Sunday | February 21, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Andre Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter

Minister of sport, Olivia 'Babsy' Grange, is beaming following a successful application to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) for the funding of a feasibility study, to examine the positives to be derived from Jamaica's positioning as a training base for international athletes.

With sporting facilities such as the National Stadium complex, Trelawny Multi-purpose Stadium, Sligoville multi-purpose complex and the soon-to-be completed facilities at the University of the West Indies, such as the Jamaica Football Federation academy, Grange is hoping that the country can capitalise on the goodwill it enjoys by attracting top competitors from various sporting disciplines.

"I had applied to UNESCO to do a feasibility study on how Jamaica can offer training facilities and coaching services to athletes overseas with a special focus on the continents of Africa and Europe," Grange told The Gleaner. "Everyone wants to come to Jamaica so we want to ensure that we have the infrastructure to allow them to come here to train."

The minister could not reveal the value of UNESCO's contribution, but advised that the only thing that remains outstanding at this point, is a Terms of Reference, outlining the details of the agreement between the government and the organisation.

"The information in terms of the total funding is not readily available. That information I will not be able to provide right now but what I can say is that they (UNESCO) have agreed to fund the study and we are now preparing the Terms of Reference," Grange pointed out. "We have the people and the facilities as well as the skills and I'm happy that they have approved the funding."

Preparing the document

Chairman of Independence Park Limited Major Desmon Brown has been asked to head a committee charged with the responsibility of preparing the document which will trigger a short process once its presented to UNESCO.

Grange added: "As soon as we send the Terms of Reference, it will then go through a short process and then the funds will be released. I have a team working on that right now, a team that is headed by Major (Desmon) Brown and I'm also in consultation with a number of influential persons in sports."

Additionally, a high-level official from UNESCO was recently in the island for a special conference on social transformation at which point assurances were given to fast track the process.

The recent decision by Britain's Olympic and Commonwealth 400 metres champion Christine Ohuruogu to train in Jamaica has shown that there is indeed several possibilities to be explored by the authorities.