Minister with responsibility for Sports, Hon. Natalie Neita Headley, says that the new National Sport Policy, currently before Parliament, paves the way for sports in Jamaica to become more of a business.
Mrs. Neita Headley was addressing day-two of the Business of Sport International conference at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston on Thursday, May 2, where she spoke on the topic: ‘Sport Entities, The Government, National Policy and The Body Politic.’
She also presented a copy of the document to Barbados’ Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Hon. Stephen Lashley, whose country is currently developing its own policy.
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The White Paper, which was tabled in Parliament on March 25, seeks to transform Jamaica into one of the most engaged and successful sporting nations in the world.
It recognises the major contribution of sport to national progress and establishes the framework for the development of sport over the decade 2012 to 2022.
The White Paper, which has the input of a wide cross section of stakeholders, addresses human resources and structures needed to ensure transparency, accountability and reliable governance structures. Also dealt with is the provision of well-equipped, appropriate and safe indoor and outdoor sporting facilities, and it identifies key stakeholders and their roles in the development of sport.
The policy also recognises the unique opportunities created by the country hosting and participating in international sporting competitions and the ability of these events to contribute to economic growth by strengthening Brand Jamaica in the global marketplace.
Mrs. Neita Headley stated that in this, the 21st century, sport must be seen as a potential career path, providing employment to athletes, administrators, managers, agents, trainers, coaches, support personnel and officials.
The Minister cited the recently announced Caribbean Premier League in cricket as a major step in professionalizing the sport in the region.
Meanwhile, Moderator and President of Business of Sport, Carole Beckford, informed that currently, just over 27,000 persons are employed in the sports industry, which is contributing more than 2.6 per cent of Gross Development Product (GDP).
Also addressing the session were Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport in Belize, Hon. Herman Longsworth; and the Barbadian Sports Minister, Hon. Stephen Lashley, who both called for more regional collaboration in sports.
Minister Lashley also pointed to the need for greater focus on disciplines such as golf, polo and rugby, which he said, “are doing extremely well in the sports tourism market”.
By Andrea Braham, JIS Reporter