Sunday, August 31, 2008

Jamaica - Sport Policy Needed NOW

Jamaica has so much to gain from its recent superb performance at the Summer Olympic Games that it should pull out all the stops to complete the Sport Policy to help to guide the country's Sport Development Process. The process should include

improving the quality of life
using sport as part of a multi-faceted approach to solving complex social issues
building and maintaining sport infrastructure
attracting major events to Jamaica for economic benefits
voluntarism and active citizenship
Michael Hall, former SDF Chairman has supported my call in saying that "we should identify and link the elements of sport development and establish a mechanism that will provide the foundation from which Jamaica full sporting potential can be realised."

The policy should also seek to set out guidelines for the reduction of inequities associated with gender, age and social class. The strategy should also address the issue of funding required to maintain the programmes.

The role of the Sport Development Foundation (SDF), Institute of Sport (INSPORT) and the Social Development Commission (SDC) MUST be enhanced. The efforts must also seek to collaborate with the Ministries of Education and Health

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Politics and Sports

Occasional outbursts from respective governments who feel cheated from international conspiracies are sometimes bothered by the interference of politics on sport. As the Games of the 29th Olympiad go on in Beijing, China there were some tense moments as the games were ready to begin.

Today, there may be little that separate sport and politics, because it is all about who wins. However, after the victory, then what? An athlete celebrates and looks to greater challenges ahead, While in politics, after the victory, there is no more challenge until the next race is about to start. In other words, no real preparation goes on.

As we all look at the Olympic Games in China a former resident of China Kathy Xu is quoted as saying “it’s not just about how fast you can run or how far you can jump,” but I think having [China] hosting the Olympics is the exact opposite of what the Olympics claim to promote.”

She went even further by indicating that the International Olympic Committee has turned a blind eye to how the Chinese support governments of Sudan and Zimbabwe. The question is, would a boycott be good at this time? We reflect quickly on the games in Moscow in 1980 where up to 62 countries stayed away; and in 1984 in Los Angeles where there was another boycott.

Where do we cross the line? Are governments ever going to get it? As consumers we ought to question the silence of the sponsors, who pump billions of dollars into the staging of these games. This may be an indication of their support of the oppression people face. Or do they think the support is strictly to the hosting of the games. Is the IOC going to ever say to a country “because you violate certain basic principles of human life, you are not eligible to host.” Can this happen?
Here is just an example of what has happened in three Olympic Games which were boycotted. In 1980 in Moscow the protest was about the Soviet’s invasion fo Afghanistan. In Los Angeles, security concerns were the main reason and only 14 countries stayed away; while in 1988 in Seoul, North Korea, Cuba and Ethiopia boycotted because of South Korea’s refusal to acknowledge North Korea as co-host.
The question is…could Jamaica have boycotted because they thought that China’s support of Zimbabwe was wrong? Especially when we think that this is the year where the best medal prospects exist?
The impact of the games will always be positive and the question we want to ask ourselves will human rights get better or worse after the Olympic Games? There is no doubt that new friends, contact and networking opportunities will be made and explored and the athletes will benefit. As consumers we also have an opportunity to view exciting and competitive events.
100 metres finals
At the time of writing this column, the 100 metres semi final listing for men was out and I was calling and emailing around to pick the top eight. What I was proud of is, there were three Jamaicans in the top 16 men in 100 metres in the world in 2008.
There were five other men from the Caribbean, making this region representing 50 per cent of the field. Could we use that to market the Caribbean as the greatest destination in the world? Yes we can (to borrow a phrase from the Obama campaign).
How will that end? I am sure we would have all known by now

Friday, August 1, 2008

Francis needs to be tamed…

The concept of the MVP Track Club, home of Asafa Powell, Nesta Carter and Sherone Simpson is a welcome addition to the track and field fraternity in Jamaica. The MVP unit has been responsible for producing home-grown talent and the track and field fraternity is better positioned now more than ever.

For too many years, Jamaican athletes got grooming from primarily the American system but just over a decade ago, the country has been able to recognise the value of having physical and technical infrastructure which enables growth and development for the local talent.

So now are not only able to unearth the talent, we are also able to prepare them on our own for international recognition and continued success. We have also added to the list of opportunities for performances by hosting IAAF sanctioned meets that other international stars look forward to competing in.

While we laud head coach, Stephen Francis for his abilities, we are not in support of him maligning the integrity of a system he learnt from. His recent outbursts have been uncalled for and also baseless. I care not about his personal feelings about the personnel in the JAAA or the JOA; but there are standards which we must uphold.

Calling his colleagues “a bunch of high school coaches who do not know what they are doing” is out of order. Considering his early days in coaching was spent learning at the feet of Glen Mills. Mills has had success under his belt for some three decades, being responsible for athletes like Donald Quarrie, Raymond Stewart, Kim Collins, Carey Johnson, Garfield Campbell and now Usain Bolt. If I were to be bold and I will, while Aleen Bailey was with coach Mills, she has her better days.

Francis must and should show respect for his country and the system, and if he has suggestions for their improvement, put them in perspective and put the recommendations where they belong; not in the media.

Jamaica is now in the spotlight, not Stephen Francis and he must be brought to abide by the rules as set by governing bodies. The rules cannot be different for one set of athletes from the other. This would be a recipe for disaster.

Let us not be distracted from the task at hand and go after the best performance we could muster up for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. Deal with the issues after and fix them appropriately.