Sporting entities must adopt firm business principles — Ryan Foster

Saturday, November 18, 2017

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Those charged with the running of sporting entities must adopt firm business principles that also provide opportunities for increased sales value to their sponsors if they are to reap success and sustainability.

This is the view of Ryan Foster, who is equally devoted to sports and business.

“Sports governance and corporate governance have similar foundations. Every organisation, whether a sporting association or a corporate entity, requires proper governance and leadership to execute the strategic objectives of the body,” he reasoned.

The Group CEO of Tastee Limited, Foster represented Lannaman's Prep and Wolmer's Boys' School in football and track and field before an injury affected his ability to compete effectively.

However, his passion never dried up, and after pursuing extensive studies in business, he attained a Bachelor's of Science Degree (Hons) in Accounting (major) and Management Studies (minor), plus a Masters in Accounting from the University of the West Indies (UWI).

The 38-year-old and his company have several awards to show for their recent work in business. They include the Carlton Morrison Award (Financial Accounting) from UWI; Certificate of Merit (customer service, UWI); First Global Financial Services Award for Performance Achievement; Business Ingenuity Award from GK Investments; Jamaica Chamber of Commerce Award (Best Medium Size Company 2016, Tastee); the Jamaica Observer Food Award - 2016 (Best Place to have Lunch - Tastee); the Jamaica Gleaner Pioneer Award (2014- Tastee); the International accreditation for HACCP Certificate (2013 - Tastee).

The synthesis of business and sports would have afforded Foster the personal experience and development to not only grow into successfully implementing plans, but also to increase a higher level of accomplishment at Tastee and the number of sporting bodies on which he serves, including Wolmer's Boys', where he is the director of sports and chairman of the sports committee since 2015; President of Skateboarding Jamaica Limited, and Director of Jamaica Paralympic Association, where he was director in charge of the World Para Athletic Championship in London 2017. Since 2015, Wolmer's have won championships in football, lawn tennis, badminton, water-polo, basketball and cricket.

He believes that many partnerships between sporting entities and companies are failing because the sporting organisations do not have a business plan that facilitates financial gains for the sponsor.

“I have found that in many of our sporting associations we have not adopted the corporate approach of executing the outlined objectives. We are more concerned with short-term goals such as funding events, but not necessarily leveraging our sporting product to key stakeholders to gain long-term brand alliance and buy-in,” said Foster.

To strengthen his point, Foster noted the successful alliance gained by fellow directors and himself at Tastee through their sponsorship of school sports, with the schools selling their product in return. Concequently, Tastee is now the largest private concessionaire in school canteens.

They are also title sponsors of the National JISA football and netball competitions (2014-2017); title sponsors of the National Prep School Athletic Championships (2016-2017), implemented Tastee Scholarship and Welfare programme with JISA (2016-2017); executed sport support and welfare for representative sports associations and federations; sponsors KSAFA Under-15 and Under-17 football programmes for three years; and sponsors several Red Stripe Premier League Clubs.

The company also assists the schools in improving their programmes including academics, welfare and sports.

“Too many times sponsors are turned off of the end product as they do not see the value of their financial commitment,” observed Foster, who has driven the expansion of the Tastee brand into new export markets and increased its profitability during which they have opened 24 new locations.

“We must treat our sporting organisation like a business and provide proper financial forecast to demonstrate to sponsors and partners the benefits of their commitments.”

He added: “We must find ways to monetise the relationship between the sponsors and the sporting associations.”

Besides being a director at CPTC and Port Security Corps, Foster is also a director of the Jamaica Paralympic Association, where he drives fundraising activities, plus Skateboarding Jamaica Limited, of which he is president.

“What I have found is that once you adopt a corporate approach to any association, you would have built a framework which provides you with the best platform to succeed,” said Foster.

“This should include developing key strategic objectives, implementing a budget, a means of tracking the implementation of the objectives, buy-in from stakeholders and a method of reward and recognition,” he declared.




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