Former Prime Minister, Edward Seaga, is proposing the establishment of an international sports bank by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), to provide funding and other resources, for sports development in countries in need of this type of assistance.
This facility, he explained, would be akin to what currently obtains in the area of culture, which the United Nations, through UNESCO, established in the early 1970s, subsequent to his recommendation tabled during a conference in 1969, while he held Ministerial responsibility for cultural development in the then Jamaican Government.
Speaking at the official opening of the International Congress on Sports for Peace and Development, at the Hilton Kingston Hotel on September 15, Mr. Seaga noted that during the 1960s, the administration of the day was faced with the challenge of sourcing resources to assist with the development of cultural facilities and projects locally.
This, he pointed out, proved to be a “stumbling block” to the effort then, as is the case for sports currently, “especially at the lower levels, where small communities can’t put together the representation that they would want in sporting activities.”
“At that time, I came to the conclusion that this needed international help, as it was not among the subjects that were chosen, when the United Nations was set up, for specialised help. But it did fit within the framework of UNESCO. And so, at a conference here in 1969, I suggested the establishment of an international cultural bank, at UNSECO, for UNESCO to build up resources, and to deploy them to needy projects. That proposal was accepted, and the International Fund for the Promotion of Culture eventually came into being; I think it was in 1972 or 1973. It still provides funding, of a small amount, but useful and important, for projects internationally,” the former Prime Minister said.
Minister of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports, Olivia Grange (right), listens keenly to what former Prime Minister, Edward Seaga, has to say, at the official opening of the International Congress on Sports for Peace and Development, at the Hilton Kingston Hotel on September 15, at which Mr. Seaga was guest speaker.
Mr. Seaga, who is a Distinguished Fellow at the University of the West Indies, lamented that, save for sponsorships from private firms, which are never enough, and assistance from Government, “sports find it hard to be able to do what it is supposed to do.”
“That is, building representational teams, or by individuals developing their own abilities to the maximum. Any international body, that can offer help, would be greatly appreciated. I would suggest that, if such a fund is established, to whatever extent UNESCO can use its own high status to attract funding, that these funds should be disbursed through their UNESCO representative agencies in the various countries, to the events, or to the facilities, or to the teams that can put up a good case. I believe that this might help us to break through and to make sports even more attractive, make it even more far reaching,” he contended.
The Congress, which is being held in Kingston from September 13 to 16, is jointly staged by the Ministry of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports and UNESCO. Dignitaries, stakeholders, experts and authorities from the local, regional and international sporting fraternity are attending the four-day event.
They will engage in debates and share information and expertise, with the aim of ensuring that all participating countries leave the Congress with the skills and knowledge, to make sport a significant contributor to peace and development.