Tough times force netball budget chop

BY HG HELPS Editor-at-Large

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

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THE Jamaica Netball Association, soon to be renamed Netball Jamaica, has been forced to chop its original national budget as it struggles to keep the sport viable.

JNA President Marva Bernard said that the already under-pressure organisation was forced to slash its original budget of $88 million for the 2013 calendar year, but even then, the pressure in funding everything is still on.

"Our first full-blown budget for the year was in the region of $88 million, but in the reality of time we have had to shave down a lot of what we had started out planning for," Bernard told Jamaica Observer journalists during yesterday's Monday Exchange, held at the newspaper's Beechwood Avenue headquarters.

"This year's budget for expenses is $65 million... We have a shortfall in this year's budget of $25 million. It is the year of a World Championship, albeit the World Youth Championship, and there is a strain on our resources every time there is a World Championship," she said.

The JNA head, who has occupied the position since 2005, said that of the budget, funding was already found to cover $43 million, but additional work was needed to get the remainder.

"We expect to go out and seek support to close this gap. This year we must give the Under-21 team an opportunity to defend their bronze medal and improve it. So, therefore, we are focusing all our attention on getting that team to the World Championship in Glasgow (Scotland). The expenses for the World Youth Championship alone is roughly $8 million," Bernard said.

The JNA, in its drive to make the organisation operate like a business entity, will focus on advertising, among other projects soon, in order to garner more funds to finance its budget.

Bernard said that a general manager is soon to be appointed, with a mandate to generate income and manage a $100-million organisation in the near to medium term.

Already, the JNA is working feverishly to incorporate the organisation and set up parish associations across the island, putting the sport under the ambit of the new Netball Jamaica, which will be run under a fresh board with clearly outlined guidelines.

The Government, through the Sports Development Foundation, pumps approximately $8.5 million into the JNA annually, making it the biggest sponsor.

For now, Bernard is hoping that more organisations with financial clout will lend support to their already "long-term investors", which include Berger Paints, Supreme Ventures and Jamaica National Building Society, companies which Bernard stated have stuck with netball through "thick and thin", with supporting the leagues.

Team sponsor Scotiabank, which lends support to the development squad; 3M which is behind the Under-21 squad; Best Dressed Chicken, main financial force behind the Sunshine Girls, and overseas clothing brand, Gilbert, which provide uniforms, have pledged their continued support, she said.

"Our leagues are self-funded, it's our national programmes that are woefully under-funded," Bernard stated.





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