Cricket

New JCA executive bats for more appealing image, sustainable path

JCA’s master plan includes massive rebuild of cricket

BY HOWARD WALKER Observer Senior Reporter walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, December 22, 2013    

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Three weeks into his position as president of the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA), Wilford ‘Billy’ Heaven has made it clear that if the organisation fails to rebuild the product into an appealing brand, then the game is destined for a miserable stint at the crease.

Heaven, who took office following his convincing November 28 election day victory over Milton Henry, outlined to the Jamaica Observer's Sports Club on Thursday the JCA’s master plan of achieving success, with a remake of the image of the sport a key first step.

Among the initiatives being considered by the fledgling administration are the establishment of a museum at Sabina Park, a gym, solar powered electricity for the premier cricket complex, rental of unused membership boxes at the facility, sponsorship of all competitions, forging a link with the Inter-Secondary Schools Association (ISSA) and effective communication via social networks.

Heaven, who is also CEO of the state-run Chase Fund, the organisation that gives 40 per cent of its revenue intake from the local lotteries to the Sports Development Foundation, says he and his team had hit the ground running. And instantly, the JCA was able to secure sponsorship to the tune of $7.5 million for the preparation of teams on the eve of entering major tournaments. “We (have been) successful in securing $7.5m so far to assist with the preparation of the teams that we now have.

We believe more and more people are having confidence in the JCA administration and I believe more sponsors will come on board,” said Heaven. “We have made contact with a number of organisations and we are setting up three or four meetings for the rest of this year to look at sponsorships and partnerships. It is very encouraging when people come to you and ask, what can I do or what role can I play?’ That’s different than you going to them and asking them to play a role,” he added.

Though the new JCA has just come to the crease and with a long innings in front of it, Heaven thinks the right shots have so far been played in wooing corporate Jamaica. “We are looking at a number of possibilities and a number of potential sponsors and stakeholders and we believe we should be able to fund some of the major competitions we are talking about,” said the respected captain of industry.

Those competitions, according to treasurer Wayne Sutherland, runs in the millions of dollars and plans are afoot to position the organisation to open up pipelines that will see to the sustainable inflows of the lifeblood. “These leagues cost $8m-$10m a year, so fundraising is a priority for us and our fund-raising committee will be off to a quick start,” he noted, as he addressed reporters and editors at the Observer’s Beechwood Avenue headquarters.

“There are many unsponsored competitions and that is a priority for us to get most of these competitions sponsored one way or another. Some are development type leagues so we have to seek a different type of sponsorship and, of course, the SDF has been a good supporter of ours,” Sutherland explained. Among the leagues, he notes, that has soldiered on without proper sponsorship for some time, is the premier Senior Cup. Meanwhile, Heaven made the point that it won’t be easy to lure corporate partnership unless an attractive product is already in existence, because at the end of the day the sponsor will be wanting value for their buck.

“What we have to make sure is that we are able to give back to the sponsors the value for their money. Nobody, especially in the private sector, will give you a dollar for a return of 50 cents and we are aware of that. We have to make sure we have the package that can provide that partnership together,” he said. Promoting the sport, Heaven argued, will be a critical part of plans to rebuild and reposition the sport in Jamaica.

“The use of social media will also help us in this process, like Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook, all of these things are powerful and are really online and on time,” he noted. At a director’s retreat scheduled before year- end, Heaven said the executive will have an opportunity to look closer at some of the plans and to hammer out a clear path to their execution. “We will be having our directors’ retreat and will be looking at our manifesto.

We will be looking at the success factor to help to bring back and develop cricket over the next four to five years. “Any plan that is shorter than four or five years, I don't believe will address the development of cricket in a meaningful way. Whether or not this administration is at the JCA, we expect that this plan we are putting in place will be followed to a great extent and that it will form part of the way forward to develop cricket in Jamaica,” Heaven ended.

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