Is Ja ready to host major sporting events?Monday, January 07, 2013
BY ANDREW EDWARDS
I have no knowledge as to what goes into planning and hosting an international sport spectacle. The fullness of the benefits likely to be derived from hosting such an event is lost amid my ignorance.
I do know, however, that Jamaica hosted the Commonwealth Games in 1962, the World Junior Championships in 2002, and that Trinidad and Tobago, a much smaller island state, has already hosted two FIFA World Cup events.
Jamaica also hosted the World Netball Championships in 2007, as well as the opening ceremony and some group games in the ICC Cricket World Cup of 2007.
With all our recent successes in track and field athletics, and our four berths at FIFA World Cup Finals, I am emotionally, sentimentally and blindly patriotically believing it is possible for Jamaica to, like Trinidad, host a FIFA World Cup finals, at the age group level. On a more ambitious scale, I need to be educated as to how we will very soon host an IAAF World Championships.
Successfully bidding for and hosting any of these will have endless benefits permeating throughout the society for decades — that is if the Local Organising Committees of the South Africa 2010 FIFA World Cup and the 2012 London Olympics are to be believed.
For sure, hosting such an event will necessitate infrastructural development and improvement in transportation, accommodation, stadium facilities, to name a few. To achieve this we would have to employ thousands of labourers; unemployment problem solved or at least partially so. Gainful employment provides the extended benefit of reduction in poverty and associated social ills such as crime and violence.
Human capital would have to be developed in a myriad areas. Hundreds of volunteers would be needed. Customer service would need to be improved leaps and bounds. Management and supervision would have to be sharpened.
Most of the new hotels that would need to be built could and should be constructed in such a way as to allow them to be converted into housing solutions once the event has passed. Some of these hotels should be developed as self-sustained units, equipped with solar and or wind power, recreation and small business facilities. Designs should also cater for accessible policing and general security.
For football, we would absolutely need to build at least four new stadiums. These can be strategically located to ensure optimal future use by local clubs, our schools and communities. For example, the Eastern Athletics Championships need not be hosted in Kingston. The new stadiums and/or renovated National Stadium MUST be built to take advantage of our solar energy potential. All roofs should be developed with solar panels to generate the energy needs of the stadium. Excess energy should be outsourced to JPS.
Tourism, manufacturing, craft, entertainment, transportation, and farming interests are some key stakeholders who would stand to benefit immediately from such an event. Properly thought out and orchestrated, these benefits need not be short-lived. Tourism, in particular, can benefit into the foreseeable future. The current visit of Dollard Soccer Club of Montreal, Canada, is testament to the potential for Sport Tourism; I know that several US Soccer Academy teams are considering similar tours in the very near future.
Before anyone posits an argument about the smallness of our cities let me hasten to point out two clear facts in support of my dream. Firstly, Trinidad and Tobago could be lost in Jamaica yet the twin-island republic has already hosted two FIFA World Cup Finals, both at the U-17 level for men and women. The second fact is that Jamaica is much smaller than most host cities for events of the magnitude of which I speak.
The solution, therefore, is to treat the entire country as a single city. As I make this suggestion, I can see the cynics pointing out the weaknesses in our transportation systems and networks. With further development to our growing network of world class highways, strategic location of new stadiums and hotels, and our transportation service I am confident this is attainable.
As I already declared above, I know not much of which I attempt to speak. I am just a dreamer with wishful thinking hoping that those who know will step forward and educate.
Lest we forget, Jamaica only a few weeks ago hosted a world title boxing match. The commendations and exultations to the organisers and the country at large have been nothing short of superfluous coming from the president of the AIBA and his son themselves. Mr Steven "Bomber" Jones, president of the JBBC, has stated that hosting the fight in Jamaica is the fruition of years of strategic planning, the realisation of a dream come true. Such a statement epitomises visionary leadership, a trait not scarce in our sports organisation.
By the time this article is published 2013 will be well upon us. If you have read this far it means you have the blessing of life. With that blessing I dare you to make this year your best year yet. Best wishes for a fulfilling and purpose oriented 2013 to all.
Editor's note: Andrew Edwards holds a BA, Dip Ed and is a teacher and football coach at Munro College and also the assistant coach of the men's National Under-20 team.