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Minister with responsibility for Sports, Hon. Natalie Neita-Headley, has reiterated her call for members of the private sector to give more support to the development of the nation’s sports.

She said this partnership will, among other things, allow the Government to upgrade and improve the nation's sporting facilities, which are located across the island.

“The infrastructure that we seek to put in has to be given greater focus and it cannot be done by Government alone, because we know what our realities are. Corporate sponsors need to see sports, like the rest of Jamaicans, as a real investment, not just as something for you to get a brand up on the wall,” she said.

Mrs. Neita-Headley was speaking at the Jamaica Millennium Motoring Club (JMMC) Invitational Stages Rally press launch, held at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston on November 15.

She lamented that the lack of first world facilities cripples the nation’s prospects of hosting several international events such, as the Diamond League Meets.

The Sports Minister noted that areas are being explored within the industry to facilitate further growth and development of the nation’s present and future athletes.

“Sports is not just for competition or relaxation anymore…sports is big business. It (sports) is a billion dollar industry. Certainly, some 10 per cent of the world’s tourists travel for sports and for sporting events across the world,” she said.

Mrs. Neita-Headley also said that plans are in place for the establishment of a National Sports Museum, which will showcase the achievements of the nation’s athletes over the years.

The Minister pointed out that many nations that have achieved far less than Jamaica have, over the years, built sport museums and the country has many accomplishments of which the nation should be proud.

Turning to the importance of the rally, she said the event seeks to develop and showcase yet another of the country’s many sporting avenues.

“Let us see every sporting activity as another opportunity to raise the level of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in this country. Let us use sports and our creative industries as a real way of breaking the cycle of poverty,” she added, and commended the sponsors of the event.

For his part, Co-Rally Organiser, Michael Fennell Jnr., informed that the event promises to be an exciting one, and informed that this year’s championship has attracted drivers from Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines as well as a strong local complement.

The 21st staging of the rally will be held from November 30 to December 2. Some of the major sponsors of the event are: Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (Petcom); Stewarts Auto Sales; Trade Winds Citrus; Knutsford Court Hotel; XSOMO International Limited; and Jamaica Automobile Association.