Presidents, directors endorse JOA's professional pathway

Presidents, directors endorse JOA's professional pathway

Thursday, July 30, 2020

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Presidents of national sporting associations with Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) member status and directors said they unanimously support and approve the vision shared by the JOA board in professionalising its operations and the various positions and scope of workers.

The message, they said, was communicated and overwhelmingly backed during presentation of the JOA board's audited financials for the years 2017 and 2018 by the treasurer and auditor in 2019. A National Olympic Committee, Jamaica's apex sporting body, is governed by the International Olympics Commission, who were presented with the said financials and also independently carried out their own audit.

Member association presidents in Jamaica noted that the move to professionalise its operations was consistent with the JOA's stated 'Pathway to Success' mantra that is tailored to qualify Jamaican athletes in at least 10 different sporting disciplines for the Tokyo Olympic Games. The presidents of local sporting associations also expressed contentment with developments and spend connected to that path.

Jerry Benzwick, chairman of Jamaica Rugby Union (JRU), said: “It was 100 per cent, everybody approved. If it was a marginal vote then we would all be standing around in a room cussing about it. They have taken a business approach to the running of the JOA and I think we have to just see where it takes us. We've seen the results of what has happened. Hopefully we'll all continue to benefit and benefit in a big way.”

Continuing, Benzwick said: “I think the president has a clear vision. He has translated this to his team and all the member associations and we've accepted it.”

“There was no dissenting voice in the room. Whatever they presented sounded reasonable and because of that there were no dissenting voices,” said Tricia Robinson, newly-installed president of Netball Jamaica, which governs the nation's number one female sport.

Nicole Grant, president of the Jamaica Gymnastics Association, noted their support.

“I approved of it. I was very happy about that. Taking a professional approach in any organisation is a plus,” she said.

Grant added: “At the meeting I didn't hear anyone say they disapprove. This is not to say they didn't, but I didn't hear anyone saying they disapproved. It was well received by us, the gymnastic persons who were there.”

In pursuit of its goals, the JOA has restructured its governance structure in a corporate manner, which includes, but is not limited to, expanding income generating capabilities of the association and its members to earn more money to fund athlete development and ambitions to succeed on the international stage, educating coaches and administrators and instituted JOA Scholarship and Internship programmes.

Two of its directors, Laurel Smith and Raymond Anderson, reiterated their position.

Smith said: “We came in office 2017 with the notion that it was going to be business unusual and not business as usual. Our manifesto (Pathway to Success) outlined that we would be modernising the JOA akin to first world standards and we understand that the necessary individuals with the relevant skill sets would be needed to get the job done.

“Therefore, a CEO was decided on, after several interviews and he was charged to populate the office with the brightest minds to realise the vision of the president,” explained Smith. “Gone are the days of volunteerism, people must work and be paid for their worth and I believe in that. We have employees at the JOA with two master's degrees. So all the hoopla about salaries by the detractors, the money is well spent from a board level point of view. We wish we could pay them more.”

Smith added: “We will continue to advance our vision to reality without wavering as we have the full support of our members, who are the ones we report to.”

Anderson is new to the JOA board, but has over 30 years' experience as an executive of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF). He said their goal is “to ensure sports for all and how best we can assist all sports, 'minor' and all of the sports of the Olympic Movement. The movement means leadership…and most important, the athletes. We're not on a joy ride.”

He also endorsed the corporate governance structure and their efforts at growing affiliates.

“At the beginning quite a few of the sporting associations never had a business plan. Now they do,” said Anderson. “The board just don't sit there and deal only with policies, we try and assist the member associations as much as possible. Each director has a number of sporting bodies for which they are responsible and work with them to build their organisation. We just don't leave our member associations and say 'swim alone', we swim with them.”

The membership spoke to benefits of their partnership.

“I really want to thank the JOA and recognise the financial investment that the JOA invested in the Jamaica team to assist us to qualify for the Pan American Games,” said Nathaniel Peat, World Karate Federation technical director for the Jamaica karate team and the lead delegate for the Jamaica karate team to international meets. “The Pan American Games is an Olympic qualifier as well as assisting our athletes to compete at international meets, which has assisted them to become within the top 20 in the world.

“We really, really value the support of the JOA in assisting us to now be in a position whereby the tiny island of Jamaica now has a fighting chance in an international meet such as the Olympic Games,” said Peat.

Pointing to support for netball's Nation's Cup and the Commonwealth Games, Robinson shared: “We're appreciative of the help that they give. When we're going on tours they provide assistance and these tours are usually in preparation for the big games, the Commonwealth Games and the World Cup.”


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