Friday, November 21, 2008

Employment and the Sporting Industry in Jamaica

With sport being one of the fastest growing industries in the world, more and more jobs can and are being created as a result.

Jamaica should be no different and it is a clear opportunity to be able to build the capacity of the industry which has given so much to this country for well over 60 years. The Ministry of Sport and its agencies along with private sector partners must now create the environment where sport is recognized and seen as a viable option for growth and development in the Jamaican economy.

Former Prime Minister, Hon. Edward Seaga, in his research has indicated the sporting industry employs approximately 22,474 people generating some US$700 million. This figure people employed directly to sport and its related areas.
Without proper measurement tools to capture the real value, it does contribute something to the gross domestic product (GDP). What then is the plan to formalise this industry and use it to the benefit of our society?

The employment figure represents almost the same as the number of teachers, which is significant enough to be noticed. That number can be increased and add value to the industry and eventually to the economy. While we devise those strategies we may want to liaise with the Planning Institute of Jamaica to see how we can measure the impact on GDP.

In challenging economic times, there are some products which will always be consumed and sport, like entertainment remains attractive. I urge the powers that be to take this much more seriously than we have.

Sporting federations cannot carry the burden alone. There main aim is to prepare their athletes for respective competitions which the country benefits from; but the management of the industry has to be guided by a policy which enables the environment for sport to be economically viable. Credit must be given to those federations which have been vigilant over the years and they continue to do well. The environment has not been the easiest to work with. Policy will help to level the playing field and NOW is the time. We are sitting on a gold mine and we are not capitalizing on it.

Businessman, Michael Hall, wrote “the resources required to make the policy work must come out of a partnership between those who control the means to make it happen and those with a common vision.”

We however will have to be patient as we develop the process and the plan; as the success will not happen overnight.

If we look at the football situation, we can safely say, planning has been missing from that equation and hence our talent growth could be affected due to lack of motivation.

It may be a requirement for the country to declare its hands on the sporting areas that matter

• Core sports – those to invest in to achieve excellence, e.g track and field, football, netball, cricket and basketball
• Network sports – those that can give us great networking opportunity e.g. golf, tennis, beach volleyball (great made for TV events)
• Targeted sports – investment in individual athletes who can be identified at the world level in KEY events e.g. equestrian, swimming, badminton
• Non-investment sports – those which are taught from the basic level and are part of a general physical education programme from the primary school level. This is a good opportunity for development of potential teams

We ought to make up our minds!

Burrell blames Simoes

Management of a Sporting Organisation

Jamaica has so many pluses regarding sport and its ability to unite the people. The men and women of Jamaica has, for in over 60 years performed at the highest level and have brought significant attention to the country, right across the world.

One thing that has been questionable, is the ability of our sport adminstrators to manage effectively. It becomes even more difficult when we have the extensive talent we still continue to have in this country.

On the matter of football...Brazilian, Rene Simoes came to Jamaica in the 1990s and returned in the 2008, but the results were different. Jamaica qualified for France in 1998; in 2008 the story change. Both times though under the leadership of Captain Horace Burrell. What then has changed...error in judgement.

Burrell as the employer is to be blamed as was Simoes for the failure of the Jamaican team to make it to the final round of the 2010 World Cup, scheduled for South Africa.

There were way too many experiments at the national level with coaches and the selection of the team for each match was way off. Burrell has to take the blame.

As for his comment regarding local coaches and the national team, lesson 1: "we have to believe in our own, for others to believe is us"...Captain, your comments are way off base and is a disservice to Theodore Whitmore, who has a 100 per cent record. Doesn't results matter? I thought so!

Whitmore needs to be invested in. He knows the football, create in him a master of Jamaican style of football. Why countries want to import our services and we are busy importing services from overseas.

Train him! It can be done! Burrell has to be made responsible for his action, it is not for him to pass the blame.

Track and field has successfully used local coaches and its success is tremendous. Look at Glen Mills, Stephen Francis and DOnald Quarrie, they are all being sought overseas.

Football can copy this template. Especially when the Manning and Dacosta Cup competitions are just as competitive as the high schools track and field. Both have the same base at the school level.

Just some ideas for the Jamaica Football Federation...plan, plan, plan; short, medium and long term planning.

Let's get cracking for the 2014 World Cup!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Using Sport Tourism as a gateway to wider tourism initiatives

Sport tourists are passionate! Sport tourists are high spending! Sport tourists are always open to new experiences! What can Jamaica do to attract more of these types of visitors? In this challenging economic climate, a destination must have diverse offerings to attract and keep tourists coming back over and over again.

The US$4.5 trillion industry is expected to see at least 10 per cent growth by 2011, according to Sport Business International. Cities around the world are becoming increasingly dependent of the visiting tri-athlete, golfer, cricketer, track athlete and footballer and Jamaica can benefit from these sports.

The average golfer is passionate, high spending and will more than likely try a new experience, so attractions become very important. So the Mystic Mountains, Chukka Blue and White River (tubing) are key attractions to maintain.


Take a look at the typical football fan, which travels to support his/her team of choice. Fully prepared with clothing to wear to the games, but will also spend to buy any kind of souvenir items available. There are also some items which a fan is not able to travel with and so those items, if available, are purchased at the venue for the games. These are flags or anything with sticks. Locals have a real opportunity to earn. The passionate sport tourist may also like great music/entertainment, so plays, musical shows and night clubs are a great addition to a package.

High Spending

Golfers are deemed to be some of the highest spending tourists in the world, and so the tastes are generally in the higher end. So great entertainment – Jazz shows, expensive wines, great cuisine. They will spend. Development of packages to suit the tastes must be done. The element of research should not be avoided and companies should invest.

The Business of Sport Tourism Report by Ross Biddiscombe is available for €690/476 pounds/US$815. This publication gives an extensive range of intelligence report in the sport tourism industry. It also identifies events and destinations which are key contributors to the growth and development of this sector.

The events which were used as case studies include, Athens Olympic Games 2004, Volvo Ocean Race, World Cup Cricket 2003 (South Africa); and the New York Marathon, to name a few; while some of the more popular destinations for sport tourism include Australia, Canada, Northern Ireland and South Africa.

In doing the research for this column, it was interesting to note than the major buyers for this report are private sector organisations. Financial institutions were also heavy on the list. So while we expect Government to develop policy, private sector activity must drive the economy.

I therefore call for an Advisory Team to work with the Ministry of Tourism, specifically on Sport Tourism. The team should consist of a planner, researcher, marketer, communicator, manager and maybe two other persons who are sport-business minded. Not more than seven is needed. A ten year plan can be drafted and must be done in conjunction with the ministries and agencies which design and implement activities worthy on capitalizing on the trillion dollar sport tourism industry.

Note: I know the Rose Hall team is already on the phone for the 2009 version of the Rose Hall WATA triathlon. What an event that should turn out to be? Triathletes, on average take up to five members of their families…so do the math!