Sporting associations have been challenged to make transformational changes and adopt a business approach for sustainable income generation to build state-of-the-art infrastructure within the next decade. While nurturing the development of talent, the centres would also be used for social outreach, along with guidelines of a National Sports Policy.

Christopher Samuda, President of the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA), threw down the gauntlet to administrators during the launch of the 16th Aston Wesley Powell Invitational Track and Field meet at Excelsior Auditorium.

“If we are serious about sport development, in 2028 our sports associations, federations, organisations, entities and the like must, by then, be efficient sport business outfits with corporate management structures, which embody and promote a culture of good governance, performance, transparency and accountability,” said Samuda, in delivering the keynote address.

“They must be business outfits with a team of professionals with the requisite coaching and administrative skills and expertise and the required vision, as well as the commitment to realise that vision. They must be business outfits that are revenue generating with decreasing dependence on donors, sponsors and the public purse,” added Samuda, who took over the reins of the island’s parent body for sports earlier this year.

Since then, his team, with CEO Ryan Foster a key figure, has revolutionised their modus operandi to secure long and strong income-generation partnerships to drive sports development through its 41-member body.

Samuda pointed out that the very associations, through clubs, “are the kernel of sport” and drivers of development at the core, grassroots level, hence there must be an impetus to get it right at that level.

He said: “2028, from my perspective, must, most importantly, witness a developed infrastructure or a developing infrastructure with customised state-of-the-art sports centres in each parish and then multi-purpose state-of-the-art sports complexes in each county.

“State-of-the-art not only in terms of facilities but importantly, state-of-the-art mind laboratories. We must not only provide the physical structures for the game to be taught and played with excellence but critically, we must give the mind space, the environment, to learn and live the values of the game and to vision a transformed game,” Samuda added.

He said that while vision, planning, time and money were all factors, such action would be best implemented through a National Sports Policy, which had actually been drafted about three years ago. Samuda informed being a facilitator to that policy and reminded if it is not given relevance and currency, it will remain an artefact of history.
“By 2028, if not before, the policy must, therefore, provide an effective framework for action and be articulated and effectuated by a proactive and mission-oriented National Sports Council that is an enabler in policy implementation in sports development. If we are to succeed, there must be clarity, structure and purpose. There must be in-built efficiencies in the system that eliminate bureaucratic thought and action. There must be in-built functionaries who do not negotiate with integrity and nationhood, who do not cost the national brand and who put country before self,” instructed Samuda.

The Attorney-at-Law pointed to the social conditions, noting the wider benefits through a marriage with sport and having access to proper venues.

“A people without vision perish … Should not sport, therefore, be, in 10 years’ time, a recognised social game-changer. Is this not part of our vision for our youth who are born into ready-made adverse circumstances or who become victims of a visionless society, or who are self-inflicted victims. If sport is to be, on a national level, a game-changer, again there must be structure, infrastructure and purpose and persons who, themselves, are change makers and transformational leaders,” he explained.

The Aston Wesley Powell Invitational, sponsored by the HEART Institute of the Caribbean for the fifth consecutive year, will take place on the Excelsior High School campus, Mountain View Avenue, on December 8. It will consist of 40 track and 36 field events for males and females, with high school competitors in classes one to four, plus senior athletes representing colleges and institutions.

“We stand here in this place at this time for he broke ground and laid the foundation. My best wishes for a successful Invitational meet,” said Samuda.

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