CHAIRMAN of the Institute of Jamaica Burchell Whiteman believes the establishment of a National Sports Museum will go a long way in helping to establish national and civic pride among Jamaicans.
Many of the displays which are expected to become part of the museum are on show this weekend during the National Sports Exhibit which forms part of the Jamaica 50 celebrations at the National Arena.
"Generally (people) who engage in sports, even those who are not national or international winners have something about them that makes them engage with others more easily and more readily... (with) the competitive spirit, they appreciate the value of being part of a team," Whiteman told the Jamaica Observer.
"I expect that all of this will assist our youngsters to be confident in themselves to be more aspirational and to achieve in many areas of their endeavours -- academic as well as sport and recreation," the former Minister of Education added during the recent launch of the exhibit at the Office of the Prime Minister.
Entitled "Showcasing the Journey", the exhibit will feature displays from several of the island's sporting associations, including the Jamaica Netball Association (JNA), Jamaica Ski Federation (JSF), Jamaica Boxing Board of Control (JBBC), Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), Jamaica Volleyball Association (JAVA), Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) and the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA).
Many of the items on display have been loaned to the government ahead of the official establishment of the museum, which Minister without Portfolio with Responsibility for Sport, Natalie Neita-Headley has given a two-year time-frame.
Whiteman was quick to reassure that the items would be safely stored for future use.
"The Institute has on its staff the people with the skills for the preservation, conservation all of that," he said.
"As far as I am aware, the Institute's Sports museum committee will protect and hold the artefacts with the permission of the people who have lent material. That which they have been given, the Institute will assist in preserving in that process."
Meanwhile, Whiteman said he believed even a two-year time frame is "quite ambitious" given all the work which would need to go into the museum's establishment.
"But we will see," he said.
"Undoubtedly, it (the exhibition) will make a contribution to the psychic health and wealth of the nation, of the people. It's what part of what makes people feel that we are very special people. We can do things and I hope that it will spill over into other areas of activity."