Minister with responsibility for Sports in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), Hon Natalie Neita Headley, is encouraging more local companies to become involved in the upgrading of sports facilities across the island as they could become prime income earners.
“Having the best facilities in place will encourage people from across the world to want to come to Jamaica to train here. We’ll have sports tourism here because they’ll want to have their international meets here. Imagine [teams like] the Boston Red Sox or the New York Yankees coming to Jamaica to do spring training down in Trelawny at a baseball diamond that is second to none. That is the vision we must have,” she said.
The Sports Minister was speaking on April 2 at a reception at the Alhambra Inn in Kingston put on by Team Jamaica Bickle. The United States-based charity is comprised of Jamaican nationals, who provide support to student athletes from Jamaica and the wider Caribbean, who participate in the annual Penn Relays.
Chief Executive Officer of Team Jamaica Bickle, Irwin Clare, agreed that there is a lot of money in sports. He said the government could target sport-loving nationals overseas to invest in infrastructure.
“Minister, if we can target 50,000 persons in the Diaspora and have a structured fund raising mechanism, there’s no reason why we cannot contribute $3-5 million to the coffers of sports management in this country through that mechanism,” he said.
President of the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC), Neville ‘Teddy’ McCook, said while corporate Jamaica does support sports, more funds are needed to strengthen infrastructure.
He noted that organisations are interested in investing in the development of sports and sports facilities, and advised sports administrators to submit proper proposals for funding to corporate bodies.
By O. Rodger Hutchinson, JIS PRO