AS the long-awaited National Sports Policy continues its slow trek towards becoming a reality, the White Paper has been submitted to Cabinet, minister with responsibility for sport Natalie Neita-Headley has told the Jamaica Observer.
"We just have a process through which it now has to go, prior to it being submitted to Parliament for final scrutiny, before it becomes a policy document. I'm very happy, very grateful to all the persons who served as part of the process; during the consultations and certainly during the revision process," Neita-Headley told the Observer in an exclusive interview.
The White Paper was prepared from a 60-page report comprising feedback from stakeholders who participated in consultations with the Government last year. A Green Paper on the policy had originally been prepared in May 2011, but the readiness of the White Paper was slowed because of the Olympic Games and the subsequent celebrations for the 12-medal haul in October.
The consultations, which ended on July 6, included media entities, private sector groups and sporting associations, and the consequent report covers several areas of concern.
These include curricula; how to treat persons with disabilities; international partnerships, and other items which would have been covered by the policy, but which stakeholders felt needed to be embellished or qualified.
However, Minister Neita-Headley was pleased with the current progress of the document which became a special project of hers when she was first appointed to the position early last year.
"They came from all sectors of society and I'm very grateful to all... who have played that kind of role," she said while explaining the next step in the process.
"What is going to be critical following the implementation of the policy document is going to be the whole sports sector implementation plan which will drive the direction of the policy and the programmes that are intended to form part of the policy for the years to come."
The minister added that the document is intended to serve Jamaican sports for 10 years in line with Vision 2030.
"It has served that kind of direction in terms of the sports for all; sports for development; sports for economic development; sports and the environment; sports for peace in the community, so it really is along the line of what Vision 2030 wants to offer."
Neita-Headley stated that she did not expect the process to go beyond the reading of the budget in March.
"This is the final stage. The most difficult work has already been done. From here, within another couple weeks, we would have completed the consultative process with Cabinet and then from there to Parliament."