Athletes manager Cubie Seegobin says the achievements of Jamaican athletes on the global stage have given the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) the power to explore beyond local shores for potential business partners.
“I think we have to be a little more aggressive,” he said as JAAA Treasurer Ludlow Watts lamented the challenges of forging private sector partnerships during Tuesday’s Press Club at the Jamaica Observer’s Beechwood Avenue base.
“We have to start thinking outside the box. We would love to have Jamaican sponsors, but… it’s very difficult when you go to them. They all want to be there for the moment but they don’t want to be there for the long run,” Seegobin, one of the most widely recognised names in athlete management, told journalists.
The Guyanese-born Seegobin said young sprinter Oblique Seville’s personal best run of 9.86 seconds at the National Stadium days ago is an ideal example of how the world closely follows Jamaican athletes.
“Whether or not you believe it, Jamaica is one of the most powerful federations in the world. And I mean, the whole Oblique Seville story has gone worldwide. As you know, from the time he ran it everybody in America, Europe knew what he had done. You know, people were waking up at two in the morning, three in the morning, you know — Jamaica is back in male sprinting,” he said.
“We have the strongest women in the sprints [sprint events], we have great women in the hurdles and the 400m. We’re talking about athletics now; I’m not talking about cricket, you know,” Seegobin added.
Earlier in the discussion, Watts expressed dissatisfaction with responses the JAAA has received from some in Jamaica’s private sector.
“I am not happy,” he said.
“In Jamaica we really have not benefited enough from some partnerships with our local entities. It can be said that we may not have done enough but we have done our utmost in terms of soliciting partnerships with the private sector,” he said.“What we find in a number of instances is that at the end of the finished product private partners get involved with other aspects but in terms of the real development, the development of track and field, helping the needy athletes through the association — it is not as adequate as we would have liked.
“And I can assure you that in many major countries of the world there is greater partnership. What you have to bear in mind is that the country gains immensely from the success of track and field. The hotel industry, tourism industry and those are direct beneficiaries of the success of track and field; but there is a disconnect in terms of being a partner,” Watts explained.
JAAA President Garth Gayle said there has been progress in finding partners but accepted that the association has at times fallen short in promoting its appeal.
“We have been making strides,” he said during the Press Club.
“We would have to now turn up the notch a little more to win the affection of the private sector. Yes, the sport is doing fantastic and continues to do Jamaica proud but we do need to be able to reach out to the private sector some more.
“They are willing. We just need to improve our marketing strategies some more in order to win and have them remain for a very long time with us,” he said.
“Partnership is really what it’s about for us at the JAAA. It’s not just to come and beg money anymore, because if you go and beg then the person who is giving will be the one to now be calling the tune,” said the JAAA boss.
But Seegobin, integral in promoting the well-regarded Racers Grand Prix in Jamaica, insisted that partnering with some local companies is oftentimes not feasible.
“I don’t look to Jamaica anymore because when you deal with a Jamaican sponsor, what comes with it is a lot of, you know, giving and not much bringing. I mean, in order for me to get $5,000 in Jamaica I have to give away 200 or 500 tickets. It doesn’t make [any] sense. I might as well pay out of my pocket,” the athlete agent told Observer’s journalists.
The JAAA is preparing to host the National Championships next month, which will help to determine teams for the World Championships in Oregon, United States from July 15-25, and the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, from July 28-August 8.
— Sanjay Myers