Creative ways needed to support our athletesThursday, September 02, 2021
I strongly believe it is in our interest to incline our ears to the very scathing, yet pertinent statement made by world track and field great Asafa Powell during the running of the relays at the recent staging of the Tokyo Olympics in Japan. Powell, when the pressure began to mount on our athletes, said, “Onu must stop pressuring the athletes them because Jamaica nuh pay them fi run a Olympics”.
Powell's statement, by any stretch of the imagination, would indicate that there is disquiet among our Olympians/national track and field athletes with regard to financial compensation they are given for their participation in these Games over the years.
Being the proud people that we are, I would assume we were all hurt and embarrassed by his utterance — I can just imagine what our friends and family members in the Diaspora thought, as they are working and living among foreigners.
It cannot be disputed that, as a people, we are indebted to our track and field athletes as they have performed exemplarily and contributed much to nation-building, bringing joy, instilling pride, widening the scope of economic opportunities for all, and opening the doors of educational institutions for our young through their hard work and personal sacrifices to be the best.
Of course, we must commend the Government of Jamaica for the recognition, respect, tremendous support, and rewards it has given to our athletes throughout the years. Sports Minister Olivia “Babsy” Grange has been quite remarkable — always visible, always there giving support in various forms to the athletes. And, yes, we have been blessed over the years to have had sports ministers who were equally hands on and supportive — they have all run their legs quite admirably.
However, I have always held true to this maxim, “It is not the amount of medals/symbolic honours a sportsman or sportswoman receives that makes him or her a worthy role model but rather, it is the quality of life that is endured in the eyes of the public.”
With that said, I am suggesting that Jamaicans begin to give financial support to the Olympic and World games programmes. This, of course, would be in addition to continued Government and private sector contributions as we have to increase that pool of funds to support our athletics programme. This is the only way Jamaica will be able to reward the athletes, and podium finishers in particular, with that which they deserve.
In order to provide the additional funds a prudent and innovate ways have to be found. I am suggesting that the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) consider:
(a) offering non-redeemable bonds to the public, both locally and in the Diaspora, in Olympic and World games years. These bonds would be charitable instruments and discount on purchase of JOA's memorabilia and the like can be a feature
(b) the adoption/offer of a JOA cryptocurrency, as is being done by large international football clubs to raise funds and shore up cash position
We have a coveted niche in track and field; Jamaicans are the fastest people on the planet; Let's all join hands in protecting it by contributing to it financially.
Dalgalish Henry Sr