The Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) will be choosing two Olympians for an upcoming scholarship programme.
The scholarship will see a total of $3 million being given to two athletes, a male and a female, who have represented Jamaica at the Olympic Games in any sporting discipline. Its duration is for one year, but it is understood that the programme will be offered in phases.
JOA secretary general and Chief Executive Officer Ryan Foster says the primary goal of this project is to prepare Olympians to enter administration, the next stage of their athletic career. This follows requests made to the JOA by various athletes and the Jamaica Olympians Association for support to prepare athletes to take up leadership roles in their sporting disciplines after retiring from active competition.
"The JOA believes in a holistic approach to the Olympic Movement and I think we will continue along that trend," Foster told the Jamaica Observer. "The Olympians have spoken and we have heard their cries that they need to be more involved in the administrative aspect of the Olympic Movement. They have been, for far too long, on the outside looking in, and I think we as the national Olympic body will continue to create avenues for athletes to not only self-actualise but also to contribute in a financial way to the Olympic Movement and for the next generation of Olympians.
"Over three months ago we launched what is called the JOA coaching scholarship. As such, three national coaches would have received scholarships from the JOA. We're going a little broader now and we're launching our JOA internship programme, specifically for Olympians.
"We saw the need that it's a paid internship that gives athletes an opportunity to learn, but also to participate in the next generation of Olympians — to share their knowledge gained from the Olympic Games, to share their experiences that they would have learned from the Olympic Games, and what are the dos and the don'ts that we, the Olympic Movement, need to ensure we replicate."
Olympian Michael Frater is now a director at the JOA and he has been advocating for more retired athletes to take up leadership roles in sports. He says Olympians want to participate not only in administration, but also in the execution of the Games and see how best they can professionalise the Games and the experiences of coaches and athletes.
"Mike would be a good representation of some of the things and the experiences he would've learned from the Olympic Games, being part of so many Olympic Games and being part of so many medal-winning relay teams, and a World Championships silver medallist himself," Foster said of Frater.
The JOA says the scholarship will expose recipients to the advanced sports management programme offered by the International Olympic Committee. The recipients will also be exposed to the executive sports management programme through the partnership the JOA recently signed with The University of the West Indies and also through the University of Birmingham's scholarship programmes.
"We'll have an opportunity to go directly into schools," Foster said. "So persons with exposure to various aspects of business administration will also be considered in terms of a preference in how best we can utilise those skill sets. A previous degree, of course, would help because that would give us a basis and a benchmark for us to look at that person and how we can hone them in the space to ensure that they can self-actualise and matriculate in the administrative aspect of sport."
The JOA did not announce specific details on the first cohort of recipients as details are still being finalised.