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PM Christie sounds good on sporting commitment

FRED STURRUP
SPORTS SCOPE

Published: May 18, 2013

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What is mostly known about the nation’s prime minister, Perry Christie, is his ability to sound good. He is a great “talker” and you want always to believe him. The entire sporting community has been encouraged by statements made by PM Christie. There was his big promise of a National Sports Academy, made shortly after his Progressive Liberal Party was returned to national office just a little over a year ago.

Most recently, in the House of Assembly, he reinforced his government’s commitment to sports development.

“The government over the next two or three years will be making a major commitment to athletics and sporting development in this country and we honestly believe that we will see the results of it in the future. We know that there are athletes in our islands today who have not had the opportunity and who have this incredible talent. Once given the opportunity, [they] can excel at the international level and this government intends to give them the opportunity to help them be the best that they can. We will provide them with the facilities to ensure that,” said the prime minister in the House.

Indeed, that all sounds so very good.

Now, we await the substantive follow-up. Like Jimmy Johnson, the former Dallas Cowboys’ coach advocates, PM Christie must not only “talk the talk”, now he and his Cabinet colleagues are expected to “walk the walk.” Yes, they need to walk through Cabinet, the necessary financial allocations that will make sense. It will be ridiculous to OK an amount that will not go the full distance in setting up the national sports development properly. For instance, once the facilities are put in place, along with that must come the funding to cover the upkeep costs and the necessary persons to ensure the process is maintained always.

The centers of sports excellence that are to propel the National Sports Academy must be appropriately staffed with competent personnel, provided with equipment and the kind of general expertise that will enable the system to thrive. It is clear that financial projections do not always accompany the verbal promises of politicians, particularly, concerning the sporting needs of the country.

What is the financial projection for the National Sports Academy?

A start-up allocation should be at least $20 million. Just the movement of sporting administrators and training experts around the nation to the many locations of sports potential will be a high cost. This aspect is most necessary. Then, there are the salaries and stipends for full time staff, support teams and the subsistence of the centers of sports excellence. Funding also must be provided for those smaller academy entities (presently existing in several islands) that the government will wish to partner with in order to further drive the national initiative.

Equipment for all of the sporting disciplines will require another large allocation of funding.

The aforementioned gives but an idea of what will be needed, generally, to sustain a viable National Sports Academy, that resembles that which has made Jamaica the envy of all of the larger nations of the world, the United States inclusive.

Put simply, we have to be about making sense.

Quite frankly, the needs (that the PM speaks of) to boost sports in this country are commonly known. I have long addressed such in this space. It is good though that finally some meaningful attention to sports appear to be the new order for our politicians, with the PM leading the way.

Now we wait to see just how serious he really is.

 

• To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at sturrup1504@gmail.com.

 


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