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JIS News

Many local athletes who have attained international recognition, have been assisted in the formative years by bauxite companies operating in the country, through their Sports Development Programmes.
Windalco, Alpart, Jamalco and St. Ann Jamaica Bauxite Partners have, over the years, made significant contributions to local sports development among the nation’s young people.
“An altruistic investment”, is how Deon Hemmings-McKatty, Jamaica’s first female gold medalist at the Olympics, describes the sports development programme at Windalco, which operates in Manchester.
She tells JIS News that her quality of life today is, in large part, influenced by the assistance she received from the company.
“There is no doubt in my mind that I could not have become who am I today, without the help of Windalco,” says Mrs. Hemmings-McKatty, who obtained a scholarship to attend Central State University in Ohio in the 1990s.
She adds that although she did hours of training and sometimes endured the agony of stubborn injuries on her own, “the shot in the arm from the bauxite company made a world of difference”.
“There is no financial bottom line that we look to build when we help these youngsters,” says Communications Officer at Windalco, Kayon Headley. “The bottom line is about people development, empowering people to, on their own, successfully support themselves,” he tells JIS News.
World Championship Netballer, Kadian Holness, tells a similar story about the help she received from the company. She was recruited at a Windalco primary school track meet.
“I am coming from a very humble background and without their assistance I don’t know where I would have been right now.I feel lucky,” she says.
Community Relations Officer for Sports and Youth Development at Windalco, Patrick Anderson, tells JIS News that the company recruits sporting talents as young as seven years old, adding that the company is particularly interested in persons who express interest in staying in Jamaica to develop their particular talent.
“First and foremost, we are good corporate citizens and we are not doing this to prove anything.We use sport as a medium to develop youngsters,” says Mr. Anderson.
Sonita Sutherland and Rose-Marie White, known for their stellar performances at Girls’ Championships, were recently awarded scholarships from Windalco to attend G.C Foster College.
“They have been our babies,” says a glowing Mr. Anderson, who has fathered the programme since 1989. “I really have no disappointments and I am sure the company feels just the same,” he adds.
“We have a programme where we find these kids in the primary schools. These two young ladies were at Holmwood [Technical High School]. A lot of athletes express the desire to go to foreign, but they decided to stay in Jamaica,” he says.
These contributions are only a snapshot of the many benevolent donations this company makes. “We assist with boarding, school fee assistance, medical assistance, Penn Relays airfare and transportation for our local athletes,” points out the Sports and Youth Development Officer, adding that Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, in her capacity as former Minister of Local Government, Community Development and Sports, was instrumental in the success of these initiatives.
Other persons who have benefited from the assistance of the bauxite companies include cricketers Wade Allen, Ricardo Powell, Matthew Sinclair, Xavier Marshall, Leon Garrick and Orville Pennant, and track athletes, Inez Turner and Lorraine Fenton.
Alpart, through its Sports Development Council, has supported sporting activities, particularly in the Essex Valley of St. Elizabeth.
The company recently hosted an awards function for students from schools in Essex Valley, which participated in the various sports development programmes sponsored by the company this year.
More than 100 teachers, students, coaches and parents attended the ceremony, held at the Alpart Sports Club last month.
The Council is an association of teachers and Alpart employees who co-ordinate football, athletics, cricket, and netball competitions among the 25 all-age and primary schools located in Alpart’s operating area in the Essex Valley bordering St. Elizabeth and South Manchester, explains General Manager at Alpart, Darrel Harriman.
“Alpart has maintained its strong focus over the past 30 years on sports as a vehicle for character development in schools,” Mr. Harriman tells JIS News.
Meanwhile, President of the Jamaica Football Federation, Crenston Boxhill traces Alpart’s support back to 1995, when the company sponsored a training camp for the Jamaica Under-19 squad at Port Kaiser, “becoming one of the first private sector sponsors on the road to World Cup qualification in 1998”.
The company supports cricket, football and athletic associations, community basketball and netball development, youth club athletics, and summer camps hosted every year annually at the Nain and Myersville sports centres.
For Jamalco’s part, much emphasis has been placed on developing football talent. For instance, the Community Football League, which began in 1987 as the Hayes Corner League in Clarendon, was recently revived by Jamalco with sponsorship valued at $1.5 million. Human Resource Manager, Winston McFarlane tells JIS News that sport plays a significant part in Jamalco’s corporate responsibility and community development.
He points out that the company is “extremely pleased to be sponsoring the competition as the avenue of sports is a way of motivating and developing active minds and bodies of our youngsters”. Mr. McFarlane notes that, “our sponsorship is indicative of the company’s interest in the holistic development of our neighbours”. President of the St. Ann Cricket Association, Ivan Anderson says that St. Ann Bauxite has always shown keen interest in sports development, and sponsorship of this year’s competition further strengthens that commitment. “An added dimension is that the company is looking at sponsoring netball and another football competition to begin soon,” he tells JIS News. Last year, the company, under the auspices of the Institute of Sports, hosted a netball competition.
In effect, the bauxite companies not only promote active participation of Jamaicans in sports, but help the athletes maintain a sense of hope and national pride.