Sport

CHEC mate! Chinese entity pumps $22m into Premier League

BY HOWARD WALKER Observer senior reporter walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, September 19, 2012    

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INTERNATIONAL marine engineering and infrastructure construction entity, China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), has come to the aid of the local Premier League Clubs Association (PLCA) with a whopping $22-million boost for this season.

CHEC, a Fortune 500 company that placed 11th on the list of the world’s top international contractors in 2011 with over US$10 billion worth of projects, made the announcement at a press conference at the office of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) yesterday.

Zhongdong Tang, CHEC’s regional and country manager, said his organisation was pleased to be given the opportunity to participate in a sport programme that is of economic importance to the people of Jamaica.

“Coming so close to our recent contribution to the Jamaican team’s participation in the London Olympics, it allows China Harbour to reconfirm its commitment to not only the economy, but also the social development of this beautiful country,” said Zhongdong.

”I must pause here to congratulate your splendid athletes for not only the medals won at the Olympics, but the pride and dignity with which they reminded the world of the power and influence of Jamaica. They showed that a country and her people do not have to be the biggest to be the best at what they do,” he pointed out.

“Our decision to establish our regional office for Latin America in Jamaica in 2010 was a clear demonstration of our full commitment to the social and economic development of this country,” he added.

Only in July this year, CHEC signed a new agreement with the Jamaican government valued at US$730m for the construction of the 68-kilometre four-lane North-South Highway linking Kingston to the North coast.

They are also responsible for the current construction of the Palisadoes Shoreline Protection and Rehabilitation Works valued at approximately US$65m.

In addition to its participation in the league as a major sponsor, the Chinese company, which is credited for the design and construction of the longest two-sea crossing bridges in the world — Hangzhou Bay Bridge and Shanghai Donghai bridge — will introduce the China Harbour Star Baller of the Month incentive.

“We consider our support for the Premier League competition a further step towards forming a bridge over this cultural gap,” said Zhongdong.

Each month a player will get the chance to be named the Star Baller of the Month and will carry home $30,000.

At the end of each game, the coaches will select the best player on the opposing team that will be recorded by the match commissary, then submitted to the Professional Football Association of Jamaica (PFAJ).

The criteria are: Positive impact on team performance; disciplinary record; number of matches played for the month and for goalkeepers, shut-outs for the month.

Meanwhile, the Edward Seaga, chairman of the PLCA, said the generous $22m deal with CHEC would mostly be used to pay players’ salaries.

“There is a saying that this couldn’t have happened at a better time, and we are here to thank China Harbour for filling a breach to a large extent that still exists in the financing of the clubs this year,” said Seaga, a former prime minister and minister of finance.

“Many clubs at the beginning of the season can barely manage to pay their players, but this is an effort by China Harbour to help them reduce that anxiety that they have,” he noted.

“This a significant sponsorship. We don’t normally pick up sponsors of this level and China Harbour is desiring to be communicated with the football programme of Jamaica so that they can themselves enjoy the benefit of what goes on in the league.

He added: “We all know that football is one of the most exciting games, but we don’t often take into consideration that football is also a game that does more than provide entertainment — it provides social engineering; it helps to solve social problems; it enables us to build communities and build the lives of the people of the community.

“In that respect, China Harbour is contributing not just to the game of football, but to the lives of the communities which football is represented in Jamaica and elsewhere,” said Seaga.

“We thank China Harbour greatly for this contribution. We look forward to the work they do here, especially the project to link Kingston to Ocho Rios by highway. We all know how useful that will be,” Seaga reiterated.

Meanwhile, JFF President Captain Horace Burrell said he was delighted to acknowledge yet another sponsor and said CHEC can expect a visit from him for assistance for the national programme.

“It’s not easy to come by… the economy today is extremely tight; it is difficult times, and having been able to attract a sponsor of this size, of his magnitude, is certainly a great feeling,” Burrell stressed.

“I want to thank China Harbour for deciding to come on board, and it is quite clear they did their homework because... there is no other endeavour in this country that can give you the level of coverage. It will be no different when you come to the national programme,” said Burrell to spontaneous laughter.

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