JOA thinks outside the box with Sports for Breakfast Forums

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February 22, 2019

Broadening stakeholder involvement to deal with issues involving athletes and enabling sporting organisations to develop and operate within a business framework, are key drivers of the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) initiative, Sports for Breakfast Forum.

These factors were outlined by lead principals of the JOA, the island’s governing body for sport, at its initial forum, themed “Investing Now: Safeguarding our Future”. It was held at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston.

The main presenters were Diahann Gordon Harrison, chairperson of the Office of Children’s Advocate (OCA) and Mayberry Investment Limited’s CEO, Gary Peart.

“The Sports for Breakfast Forum is one of our stakeholder engagement initiatives whereby we invite member associations, members of the Government, members from corporate Jamaica to share in national and international topics that are relevant not only for sport, but topics that are relevant for the country on a whole,” said Ryan Foster, the JOA’s general gecretary.

“It comes under the pathway for success for vision, where we broaden our stakeholder involvement and broaden how we improve discussions on what are current topics in the Jamaican landscape,” he added.

Gordon-Harrison, the guest speaker, dealt with child abuse and advocacy, plus the importance of children in the growth of sport, but also in the protection of children as it relates to the future of sport in this country.

Peart, also an expert in his field, addressed the issue of life after sport, for which the JOA and International Olympic Committee (IOC) would have been strong advocates. He spoke of the importance of retirement and plans put in place by our sporting athletes not just in Jamaica, but across the region and how they invest in the future.

President of the JOA Christopher Samuda, said such thinking and action is critical in advancing sport’s human and infrastructural capital, noting it numbered among their goals.

“Before we came into the administration of the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) we decided that we would be having a level of engagement hitherto never seen and part of that engagement would be a breakfast series with our internal stakeholders, as well as our external stakeholders, to discuss various issues that arise in the administration and governance of sport,” said Samuda. “And this, of course, is very important because what we are attempting to articulate to our members is sports stratum on which success is built.

“So we’ve to know about the business of sport, we’ve to know about the commercialism of sport, you’ve to know about the corporate governance structure that lends to a good business model in sport and these breakfast series are designed to do just that,” he advised.

“What we hope to achieve is a level of education among our stakeholders that will place them in a very good position to not only call up their business models, and also strategise in a way that commercial concerns do, but also to ensure that the generation that follows them, in terms of governance and leadership, is well acquainted with the business practices that are critical to the success of any organisation,” he added.

Sporting leaders endorsed the move wholeheartedly.

Joylene Griffith, president, Jamaica Cycling Federation, said: “The talk on children and how we look at the whole problem of sexual abuse, child abuse as it relates to sports and coaching is something we’ve been talking about, even in our federation as we look to launch our programme in schools. This is something that has been top of mind for us.

“I’m very happy for it. It provides another forum for us to meet and talk and share at a totally different level, bringing persons from the outside in, which we probably wouldn’t have done as individual federations. I’m very happy for it,” reiterated Griffith.

Tennis Jamaica President Aswad Morgan, said: “What they brought up today are some real issues in sport and an eye opener. Certain things we hear about everyday, but we hold onto a view and not deal with them in the manner they should be dealt with. But these forums are to bring awareness and solutions to more of those issues and I’m happy that we participated.”

Gilroy Graham, president, Jamaica Roller Sports Association, expressed similar sentiments.

He said: “We from the Jamaica Roller Sports Association are extremely pleased to be part of the Sports Breakfast Forum. We think this is a tremendous initiative on the part of the JOA. We particularly like the theme, which is investing in our youth, investing in our children and the keynote speaker spoke very eloquently this morning about the need to invest in our children and brought out the great responsibility we have as sports leaders to ensure that we’re looking after our children and youth.”

Graham added: “Our other special presenter, Mr. Gary Peart, from Mayberry, also spoke to us about the need to start investing in ourselves as athletes. Our retirement age tend to be much, much earlier than persons who retire at 60, 65 years, and at least could return at 20, 25 years earlier. And so it is important that from a very early stage, starting from now athletes need to start investing.