For the 2011 – 2012 period in the collegiate system in the Jamaica, close to 100 student athletes have been awarded scholarships from colleges. Mico University, University of Technology, University of the West Indies and the GC Foster College of Physical Education & Sport have so far registered their intention to prepare and improve on the development of athletes from various sporting disciplines. It suggests that for the next four years, we should see our student athletes continue with their excellent performances on the field of play, but also have greater access to acquire requisite training and development in other professional areas.
These scholarships are a welcome addition to the growth and development of the sport industry as Jamaica progresses and grow into the sporting mecca of the world. This effort has to be lauded. While the colleges/universities have their own agenda in terms of collegiate competitions, it may also be a great idea to have the athletes at least meet once/twice each year to exchange notes and ideas on their varied experiences in a controlled setting. The offices of Students Affairs may want to coordinate on their calendars.
We know the value of a great education especially to athletes who seek the best opportunity for earning ability and it is the responsibility of the athlete to seek this out, but the system can and is playing its role. The efforts by the college system are also important as it is this age group, 17 – 26, that poses some challenges, according to researchers. So I am hoping we can officially track some of these individuals to look at their overall progress in highlighting the validity of the programmes and what shortfalls there may be, with recommended improvements.
While we are growing the industry though, it is also of value that we train to provide the support in administration, technical, social and other developmental areas. We have seen how quickly the sport sector is growing and is bursting at the seams in some areas; but we have to be mindful that the athlete base does not outgrow the support we can offer.
It is therefore important to have better access to courses in sport management, sport psychology, sport administration, sport nutrition, statistics, budgeting and finance as areas that will complement the training being done on the academic side for the athletes. The Business of Sport while having the athletes can only be stronger if the support grows. The formal four-year programmes do offer some of the related courses, but there are creative ways to offer professional modules which last for up to 45 hours, making it also in keeping with international standards. What this does too is attract some people from ‘outside’ the industry to make better use of some skills and knowledge.
An athlete ultimately wants to perform at the highest level of competition, either in the world championship of their respective sport or the Olympic Games, and while London is just around the corner, the Brazil 2016 programme should start now. I am excited at these developments and we look forward to the support from all. Well done!
About the author:
Carole Beckford has been a journalist for over 22 years working in press and electronic media. She is the publicist for Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the world. She is the CEO for Carole Beckford & Associates, a company which specialises in Image Management, Marketing and Media Planning.
In 2007 she published her first book ‘Keeping Jamaica’s Sport on Track’, an incisive, succinct 56-page account which looks at a policy framework for sport, specifically in Jamaica, but can be used in any developing country.
She has also covered local, regional and international sporting events ranging from cricket, track and field, football, basketball, netball, volleyball and hockey. Carole has served on several sporting bodies in Jamaica and the region and was the first female president of the Jamaica Volleyball Association, where she oversaw the hosting of World Championship Qualifiers in Kingston in 2004. She currently is a freelance columnist for national and international publications.