THERE might be some concern with the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) relationship with global sport wear manufacturer PUMA, but the company's foray into high school track and field sponsorship took another gear after successfully winning the heart of the much-touted Kingston College (KC).
Formally with Nike, KC athletes and coaches have now committed to a deal which became effective on January 1, this year with PUMA, that according to team officials, will last as long as "a generation of students".
Logistics and Gear Manager Raffick Shaw stated that KC have for some time been pursued by friends of PUMA. "Some persons who are in the PUMA corner have been nudging us toward PUMA since about 2009."
Shaw further revealed that "though we had the opportunity to come out of the contract (with Nike) for a more lucrative deal, we said no, because we are an honourable institution".
"Nike has been very good to us over the years," the KC old boy stated. However, "Nike is restricted by US laws which restrict the form and level of sponsorship they can offer to amateur institutions," he cited in reference to Nike's inability to offer financial sponsorship in addition to supplying gear.
PUMA, however, is under no such restrictions, and as such "a lot of schools have received bailout from PUMA... this augurs well for the development of the sport", he said.
This development cannot only be measured from a financial perspective, according to Shaw, as he believes that "footwear and other branded items are an incentive for talent to 'come out'". This will ultimately boost the crop of athletes each school has and potentially lessen the work load of some athletes during their high school year.
While being restricted in mentioning the exact value of the sponsorship, Shaw was able to point out that the contract includes training and competition gear, as well as the ability to purchase items (from rival manufactures) which are not currently supplied by Puma. Such items include shoes required for the throwing and jumping events.
PUMA has also not restricted the quality of items that KC will receive. "They gave us the opportunity to select from the highest standard of professional gear," Shaw stated, while highlighting that he painstakingly reviewed each item against that which the likes of PUMA-sponsored athletes such as Usain Bolt and Jermaine Gonzales, wear.
Shaw mentioned that the quality of the items was a major concern going into the contract, as their previous sponsor also made no differentiation in the quality given to professional athletes and amateur institutions.
— Dean Smith