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The Honourable Olivia “Babsy” Grange, Minister of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports, has said that sports can become a leading industry in the Jamaican economy by 2030.
The Minister’s pronouncement, came as she addressed the Opening Ceremony of the historic two-day International Congress on Sports for Peace Development, which gets underway in earnest at the Hilton Hotel in Kingston on Monday, September 15.
Minister Grange, who deputised for the Prime Minister, in declaring the Congress officially opened, told her audience in the Auditorium of the University of Technology on Saturday afternoon (September 13), that the Ministry is in the process of developing a National Sport Policy for Jamaica. In the development of the policy, which she described as an ambitious exercise, the Minister said, “we are taking a somewhat novel approach, to treat sport as an industry, an industry with the potential to make a significant contribution to GDP.”
Minister Grange said that there had to be constant effort to maintain the nursery which will produce those on whom Jamaica will depend, for the sustainability of the country’s prowess as a sporting nation.
She said there were some important steps that had to be taken. “We propose to embark on a programme to construct min-stadiums in urban centres, develop playfields at schools and in communities, train more coaches and have them identify and develop talent at the school and community levels, and provide more physical education teachers in the school system.”
“These initiatives we believe will help us to identify more Usain Bolts, more Asafa Powells, more Veronica Campbell Browns and more champion athletes, to build on the excellent achievements that Jamaica has had over the years, going back to the pioneering attainments of Arthur Wint and Herb McKenley.”
Minister Grange said her Ministry (MICYS) was especially pleased to be co-sponsor with UNESCO of “this very important” International Congress on Sports for Peace Development.
She said the idea for the Congress came out of discussions she held with the Assistant Director General for Social and Human Sciences of UNESCO, Mr. Pierre Sane, when she shared with him her enthusiasm about the power of sports in social transformation.
The Sports Minister said that another development of significances which should be associated with the Congress is the decision by UNESCO to move sports and physical education from its Education sector back to its Social and Human Science sector. “The effect of this shift is that the Organisation will now focus more on the social and developmental impact of sports. Hence, this conference with its theme for Peace and Development.”
Miss Grange said also that Jamaica had all right to feel proud, that after representations were made to the Director General of UNESCO, Usain Bolt and Veronica Campbell Brown were appointed UNESCO Champions for Sport.
She informed her audience that, “Veronica is the first woman from the Americas to be awarded this honour and Usain is the first person from the Americas to be selected since the great Pele, some fourteen years ago.”
Other speakers at the Opening Ceremony were President of UTECH, Professor Errol Morrison; Assistant Director General, UNESCO, Mr. Pierre Sane; Director, UNESCO Office,Caribbean Mr. Kwame Boafo and President of the Jamaica Olympic Association, Mr. Mike Fennell. Chairman of the function was Permanent Secretary, MICYS Mrs. Faith Innerarity, .
Earlier Saturday afternoon, the Caribbean Sports Ministers gathered for a Caucus at the Hilton.
Specially invited speaker at the first session of the Congress Monday, September 15 at 9 a.m., will be former Prime Minister, the Most Honourable Edward Seaga.
Also in the morning period, former Finance Minister Dr. Omar Davies; Minister Grange; Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs of Trinidad and Tobago, the Honourable Gary Hunt; Olympian and President of the Jamaica Intercollegiate Sports Association, Grace Jackson Small and a UNESCO Representative, will participate in a panel discussion on Sports for Peace Development in the Caribbean.
Sessions will cover Sports for Peace Development in the Caribbean and Sports for Peace and Development: Social, Economic, Education, Cultural, Environmental and Political Dimensions.