OA impacting sport governance in the Olympic movement

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March 2, 2021

The current administration of the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) made it clear when assuming office in June of 2017 that Jamaica’s influence and impact in governance in the world of sport must be felt and provide enabling pathways for successive generations of sport leaders. JOA President Christopher Samuda, an attorney-at-law and strong “business unusual” policymaker, said then that “my directors and I have a duty and responsibility to selflessly position Jamaica internationally in providing opportunities for thought and servant leadership for those who will succeed us and build admirably on what we have established”. The global sporting fraternity is now tapping deeply into the expertise of officials of Jamaica’s apex governing body. Samuda is a member of the Executive Committee of Centro Caribe Sports (CCS), formerly the Central American and Caribbean Sports Organisation (CACSO), which owns the Central American and Caribbean Games (CAC). He is also president of its legal commission, and sits on its governance and ethics commission. CCS has a membership of 37 spanning English, Spanish- and French-speaking countries and JOA’s Secretary General and CEO Ryan Foster, whose know-how and experience in finance and delivering successful sporting events is well-known, sits on its technical commission, where he is part of a team of professionals responsible for administrating the technical rules of over 35 sports of the CAC Games — the oldest continuing regional multiple sport championships in the world. His colleague director, Robert Scott, who is dean of the Consular Corp in Jamaica and versed in commercial diplomacy and product differentiation, is managing, with other regional executives of National Olympic Committees, the rebranding strategy and campaign of the organisation which late last year approved its name change and a new logo. The Samuda-led administration is also well represented on the commissions of Panam Sports, owner of the Pan American Games, which also went through a rebranding exercise in 2019. Directors Samuda, Foster, Nelson Stokes and Garth Gayle sit on its Ethics, Finance, Marketing and Coaching & Education Commissions, respectively, combining customised and professional knowledge and skills with a commitment to serve this 41-member regional organisation. Director Gayle, the newly-elected president of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA), who previously managed the secretariat of track and field governing body, continues to impact the leadership and policy direction of the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC) in the capacity of chairman of the competition’s committee. The concentric influence of the new administration extends also to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), where JOA’s honorary treasurer, Nichole Case, a technology senior executive and marketing practitioner, serves on the global governing body’s marketing commission. Indeed, it is a historic appointment that underscores confidence in the competences of Jamaica’s chairperson of the local Women in Sports Commission, which was established in 2019 and signalled another ground-breaking achievement of the innovative governing administration. Director Yvonne Kong was announced a recipient of the Women and Sport Award from the IOC in 2019, in recognition of her global contribution to and impact on the development and participation of women and girls in sport. “I am honoured and humbled to receive this award,” were the words uttered by Kong, the respected and revered veteran educator and sport executive. The conferment of the award was historic as it is exemplary of a personal commitment in transforming policymaking through the various leadership roles played by her in the sporting arena. As sport continues to evolve into a far more corporate structure and becomes notably self-regulated and commercialised, the leadership is responding. Recently Samuda was appointed to the Judicial Commission of World ParaVolley and reappointed to the Festival Commission of the Fédération Internationale Cinéma Télévision Sportifs (International Federation of Cinema, Television and Sports) offices, which the JOA president maintains are occupied by him “for a time with the hope that succeeding homegrown talent will emerge and assume in making a far greater contribution to the governance and business of sport globally”. Thought and servant leadership continues to be a pillar of the construct of the JOA in carrying out its sporting agenda of change and transformation which is not confined only to the local environment. Foster, in responding to Jamaica’s advances in regional and international policymaking, stated: “Jamaica may be a small island in the Caribbean Sea, but our impact must be as deep and wide as the oceans that surround continents and beyond the horizon.” This undoubtedly explains why the apex body continues its thrust, through its ‘Olympic Invest’ programmes, to create educational and technical opportunities for members and other stakeholders to make their marks locally and globally