NCB Foundation takes pride in $54-m spend on MVP grass roots programmes

NCB Foundation takes pride in $54-m spend on MVP grass roots programmes

BY HOWARD WALKER
Observer senior reporter
walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, January 26, 2020

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The NCB Foundation has spent approximately $54 million on sponsorship of the MVP track club, and CEO Nadeen Mathews-Blair believes it is money well spent.

The NCB Foundation, which was formalised in 2003, has spent $2 billion on sponsorships of education, sports, youth and community development.

Since 2013 the NCB Foundation has spent $1 million on the grass roots programme and $10 million annually on athletes' development between 2015 and 2017, and $5 million annually between 2018 and 2020.

“There is the grass roots programme, which targets high schools, and then there is the programme that supports athletes in the MVP track club that have not made it as yet,” said Matthews-Blair, while speaking at the recent Jamaica Observer's Monday Exchange.

“So these athletes are actually struggling to stay in school while balancing running and, in some instances, struggling to eat — and that's where our resources come in,” she pointed out.

The MVP (Maximising Velocity and Power) track club is the most successful in Jamaica and has played a significant part in keeping the tiny island on the athletics map, producing the most Olympic medallists.

Founded in 1999 by the affable Stephen Francis, his brother Paul Francis, David Noel and Bruce James, MVP proved a viable alternative for athletes to stay in Jamaica and train.

The likes of former 100m World record holder Asafa Powell, Brigitte Foster-Hylton, Melaine Walker, Michael Frater, Nesta Carter, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Elaine Thompson, Shericka Williams, Sherone Simpson, Shericka Jackson, Stephenie-Ann McPherson, Christine Day, ODayne Richards and Tajay Gayle have been shining examples of the power output of the organisation..

To date, these MVP athletes have won 33 gold, 35 silver and 13 bronze medals at World Championships and Olympic Games.

“MVP is glitzy now, but in 2004 when we started to support them they were not glitzy. They were literally trying to start up something, and we created an opportunity for our athletes to train at home and not have to go overseas,” said Matthews-Blair.

“I talked to Bruce James a lot about the need to make a movie because when you hear the stories about Brigette Foster-Hylton flying up with 'Franno' to a meet, laying down in the back of a taxi so she can get enough rest because she is going directly to the meet,” she revealed, adding “those are the stories that we don't see because we are so used to seeing Shelly when she has arrived. And that's why we continue to support at that level,” Matthews-Blair reiterated.

“Again, it's about the pipeline. And we are really happy what MVP have done, and we just really want them to share more of those stories and what it takes. What happens before they get to that elite stage?” she quizzed.


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