JOA's Equipment Grant Scheme bearing sweet fruit
Jamaica Gymnastics Association President Nicole Grant (right), with some junior athletes.

THE initiative by the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) to invest millions into its equipment grant is bearing fruit as a number of member associations have been making use of the funds.

Financing for the programme, which provides funding for sporting associations to acquire equipment deemed critical to building capacity for sport and the performance of athletes, was made possible by way of a three-year partnership worth $45 million with Supreme Ventures Limited (SVL).

Seventeen member associations have so far benefited including the Aquatic Sports Association of Jamaica (ASAJ) and the Jamaica Gymnastics Association (JAGA). The Jamaica Golf Association, Jamaica Karate, Jamaica Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation also benefited from the initiative as well as the Jamaica Cricket Association and the Jamaica Wrestling Federation.

In recent times the ASAJ had been in desperate need of new lane lines for the national swimming pool at Independence Park Limited, as the ones that were in use had deteriorated over the years to the point where swimmers were at risk of injury, whether during practice or competition.

However, the cost of replacing them – more than US$16,000 – proved prohibitive, which cost was further impacted by the onset of the pandemic.

ASAJ President Martin Lyn explained that the JOA came to their aid after he outlined the challenges the association faced in acquiring new lane lines.

“The previous ones that we had, over time, deteriorated so that there were sharp edges, so swimmers could possibly get cut or bruised if they came in contact with the lane lines while swimming. So the lane lines were very important for us and we simply could not afford to purchase them ourselves,” Lyn said.

“I approached the JOA. They not only helped but they paid for all of the lane lines, so the equipment grant was very helpful to the ASAJ. It is something that will be used for many years before we will need new lane lines.”

Lyn also explained that the new lane lines give the association some flexibility with regard to their usage.

“Some of the lane lines that we now have can be used for both training and competition; they can also be used as a cordon for water polo. It was a very big help. We really appreciate the JOA partnering with us to ensure that our young athletes benefit.”

The gymnastics association has also lauded the JOA for its help via the grant in acquiring some important pieces of equipment that would help the athletes upgrade their skills.

“The JOA has been so supportive and serious about developing sports in Jamaica. They have assisted us with the purchase of three air vents for the gymnasium, valued over $300,000, and also much-needed landed foam blocks to complete our landing pit to the tune of $1.5 million,” said the association's President Nicole Grant.

“We desperately needed the landed mats to help upgrade the gymnasts' skills to prepare them for the Central American Championships and the Pan American Hopes Tournament later this year. We have already seen improvement in our gymnasts as they continue to train towards these events.”

Grant said the initiative is yet another feather in the cap of the JOA, which has been supportive of her fledgling association.

“We are truly thankful and grateful to the JOA because they have demonstrated, time and again, that their job is way beyond just sending teams to Games and the Olympics but [also includes] helping with the development from the grass roots levels and educating our gymnasts and administrators through their various programmes and scholarships [of which] we have been on the receiving end,” Grant said.

“Through the JOA, Olympian Toni-Ann Williams is currently in Europe pursuing a Masters in Sports Administration and I have recently completed the Diploma in Advance Sports Management conducted by the JOA. It's definitely a blessing to be affiliated to such an institution that demonstrates, time and again, that assisting with the holistic development of a sport is necessary to achieve its ultimate goals.”

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