JIS News

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  • Minister with Responsibility for Sports, Hon. Natalie Neita Headley, has cited the need for public/private partnerships to further the development of sports.
  • Mrs. Neita Headley said Government cannot do everything and must prioritise.
  • The Minister pointed out that the demand for facilities is growing and management teams are eager to have their athletes make use of the new facilities.

Minister with Responsibility for Sports, Hon. Natalie Neita Headley, has cited the need for public/private partnerships to further the development of sports.

Mrs. Neita Headley, who was addressing the Ministerial Forum at the Business of Sport International Conference 2014, at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston on Friday, May 1, said Government cannot do everything and must prioritise.

She said that it is only through public private partnerships that true inroads can be made in meeting the sports infrastructural needs.

“Such partnerships will be ‘win-win’ as the private sector concerns will have the chance to associate with the athletic stars, while making their brands more attractive to the public at large,” Mrs. Neita-Headley observed.

The Minister pointed out that the demand for facilities is growing and management teams are eager to have their athletes make use of the new facilities. Therefore she said, this type of investment is a secure and safe option.

She noted that the big earner for the future of the sector, and one of the fastest growing sectors, especially in the Caribbean, is sports tourism.

“To compete in these markets we do not need just gyms, sports facilities, trainers, physiotherapists and other professionals, we also need housing and medical facilities of the highest standards. The athletes who will want to come here and train, especially in the winter months expect first class facilities.  Most are high net worth individuals who are accustomed to certain levels of service.  Dormitory accommodation will just not do,” the Minister said.

She also cited the need to create hubs for top class facilities at the community, parish, national, and regional levels.

“Initially these hubs may be in schools or at private clubs, but eventually they should be at public facilities available for use by anyone in need,” she added.

Also addressing the forum was Professor Emeritus at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada, Dr. Colin Higgs, who stated that sports is one of the best areas in which Governments can invest.

He pointed out that there are great benefits at the individual, community, and government level.

“If you put an investment in sport, you can save money on physical health, mental health, on personal growth, community economic development, community regeneration, community safety, environmental improvement and on those intangibles like social inclusion,” Dr. Higgs said.

He noted that for every dollar that is spent on sports there will be savings of C$1.75 to almost C$4 on health care cost.

“If you invest a dollar in sports programmes there is good evidence that you can save up to $41 in incarceration cost because keeping people in jail is very expensive,” Dr. Higgs added.

Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Cayman Islands, Hon. Bernie Bush, who was also panelist, noted that to get to the place where sports is a business is a very long journey.

Mr. Bush also noted the importance of coaches in the Caribbean having scientific background to support their certification.

The Business of Sport International Conference, which runs from May 1 to 2 at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, is an international forum for leaders in business and commerce in the sports industry. It provides an opportunity to exchange ideas on the business of sports.