Sport Academy – is really a concept, not a physical space

November 26 – Sport Academies have become popular globally. Since the 1970s, some societies deemed it important to balance the lives of youngsters who were choosing sport as a career. Since then, some of those have morphed into what we call High Performance Centers.

We can define a sport academy as a talent development program designed to create the best athletes in any sport; using specific techniques and a system to create excellence. The academy concept has the capacity to zone in on preparation, execution and after care.

Here is an example of why an Academy worked back in the 1970s. The Americans thought the team’s performance at the 1972 Summer Olympic Games was below par and Dr Carl Blyth and Dr Frederick Muller of the University of North Carolina in a report established a link that showed that preparation was lacking. The need for a sport institute (Academy) was revealed.

Since then the Academy concept has gone through several revisions. The Global Sports Academy, based in Alberta, Canada, has as its 2nd approach – we develop physical, mental and social growth. What I also realized, they “move students out of their comfort zone and into their learning and panic zones” – in other words, they prepare athletes to compete.

The High Performance Center today, does that and more. But what has also happened, is the HPC has developed into a concept which focuses on excellence, in some cases, specialization and the mental and social. What has changed though is the developing nations, largely with great talent, have been beaten in intense competitions and there was need for teams/athletes to learn how to finish. The Academy in its concept helps athletes develop the ‘competitive edge’.

The Academy concept caught on in the Caribbean region in the late 90s. The formation and standardized operations of track and field clubs based in the region; the HPC for cricket and academic institutions with curricula focused on preparation – became a thing.

We have seen the results of home trained athletes across the sporting disciplines and the medal table at the Olympic Games for the Caribbean shows the kind of growth which has taken place.

Fast forward to 2017, with developing economies unable to find budgets to fund programs of national priority; it has created the call for sporting federations to be more creative and the role of technical experts now got a chance to show their worth.

The experiment with cricket worked and to its credit did include some of the current members of the Test team. The center, based in Barbados (at the time) was officially opened in 2010 and was a partnership with the University of the West Indies. The center targeted players between the ages of 19 to 27. The first group of players were Shamarh Brooks, Jason Holder, Shane Dowrich (Barbados), Kyle Corbin, Kevin McClean (Combined Campuses & Colleges), Brandon Bess, Ravindra Chandrika, Veerasammy Permaul (Guyana), Nkrumah Bonner, Andre Creary (Jamaica), Kieran Powell, Devon Thomas (Leeward Islands), Shannon Gabriel (Trinidad and Tobago) Keron Cottoy, Delorn Johnson (Windward Islands).

The HPC in its original form has been discontinued. Since then, the franchise system has been developed. New systems have been in place and the results/records have a lot to tell the discerning public.

After four years of the Professional Cricket League (PCL) system with 10 rounds of 4-day cricket; two zones of 50-overs cricket with ten played within 30 days and a 6-weeks’ T20, regional cricketers have more than a fair chance to excel. What exists now in each region is a list of professional and coaching staff with upgraded skills sets (in two years, there has been two Level 3 coaches courses). The A Team has assembled for tours in and out of the region and the player pathway seems clearer. Selection remains subjective to the biased onlooker, but there are merits to the system, now in place.

I wanted to make the point though, HPCs in 2017 are but a concept, one which is determined by its focus on excellence, specialization and results; one supported by its participants committed to doing the tasks and programs required to compete. That I think, can be done in a physical space, but with things the way they are, can be done from anywhere, once the mindset of those involved are all on the same page.

High Performance

The ideal Caribbean would want a physical space; but with limitations, we must consider the options. Also it is an opportunity for teams and clubs within the region, while adopting in principle, the HPC plan, upgrade its facilities while finding ways and means to attract more participants to its programs.

I would want to suggest that in five years if the plans are adopted to fit each program in each territory, with decent facilities and more technically prepared officials; the HPC model would continue to create cricketers that can adapt to global demands; while importantly, earn enough to take care of their families.

Sporting federations today facilitate growth in key areas for its athletes by ensuring its stakeholders are given the chance to be up skilled to meet the dynamic global demands. They do this by creating an environment where this is possible. The HPC forms just one part of the ever changing cricket culture and market.

The challenge is therefore for the regional bodies to make this change and in their daily operations, surround themselves with the HPC focus and mentality. Cricket will win!

#StayInTheGame

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Posted in Athletes, Caribbean, Coaching, Football, Jamaica, Leadership, Management, Sport

Football in Jamaica – the preferred pathway

November 12 – Even before the 2017 version of the Manning, DaCosta, Ben Francis, Walker and Flow Super Cup competitions end, I would like to make some suggestions to the folks who manage football in Jamaica. This includes all the organizations with Prep, Primary, High, Club and Elite football under its purview.

The traditional competitions all together have brought us to the ultimate in 1998, when Jamaica participated in the World Cup of Football. That is what all countries dream of.

What has happened since? And what will happen now? I have suggested over and over that Jamaica needs the football program. It is the sport that will bring the best opportunity for investment and the sport that is likely to attract the greatest level of support in sponsorship, if shown to be well-organized and bearing fruit.

What does this mean?

  1. Prepare a plan that speaks to the pathway to achieve the ultimate (another appearance in World Cup)
  2. Invest in the technical development of all those involved – coaches, officials, strength and conditioning experts, academicians, analysts, other support teams
  3. Improve the facilities – for competition, for training and preparation
  4. ISSA and the JFF must sit together and figure out how the schools’ program feed into the professional/elite program, and what if any adjustments are required     Team-Building       This system then has to match what our competitors are doing globally in this particular age group. We will match the outputs to see what adjustment may be necessary to ensure that the Under 17, Under 23 and Senior levels of football are on par. In the meantime, the academic development  of the athletes must also be comparable. ISSA as a governing body for school sports require a research unit to assemble this information and put a strategic plan to share with its stakeholders for 1. Buy-in 2. Delivery and ultimately for results. Development takes time and we have to be prepared to do the work.

For Jamaica to get back to the World Cup, the timeframe for this cycle, 2017 – 2022, must be in planning stage now and I would hope that this planning in happening behind the scenes. Remember now, sport is judged (ultimately) by Olympic medals, appearances in World Cup/Championship and athletes being able to the among those with the biggest pay checks and endorsement packages.

Is our system ready to absorb this? If so, it is time. So whether the remedy is to reorganize school football, club football and senior program, then now is as good a time. We can acknowledge our traditions by maintaining names of competitions etc, but we must embrace a new way of thinking and approach the sport as a business to meet the goal as required.

The 17-year old in Germany, England, Australia and Brazil is on a path to World Cup…are our players at the same age at the same point? We can no longer depend on talent, as we have seen where that has placed us. We need strategy at all levels to compete.

You may refer to this column I wrote July this year, http://web.jamaica-gleaner.com/article/sports/20170724/carole-beckford-jamaica-and-football-leadership

Or you can go back to October 2012 http://carolebeckford.blogspot.com/2012/10/jamaica-needs-football-programme.html

#GetinTheGame

 

 

 

Posted in Advertising, Athletes, Branding, Jamaica, Leadership, Sport

Sport in Jamaica deserves better…

Sunday, November 5 – Next year, Jamaica’s name would have been in world sporting news consistently for 70 years. Since the 1948 Summer Olympic Games the country’s athletes have maintained steady and improved global ranking in several disciplines and at times even beating the world. The athletes and administrators deserve all the praise.

The country’s brand positioning has been significantly enhanced by the global appeal of its athletes and as we close in on 2017, there is so much more to look forward to.

Jamaica boasts a solid high school sport program. The governing body for school sport, Inter Secondary School Sports Association (ISSA) has managed over several sporting disciplines out of which a significant portion of the country’s stars used as a platform to grow. Over the years, institutions, clubs and other privately run teams have managed to heighten the county’s solid achievements by forming and maintaining programs for the post-high-school era enabling the athletes not to be over dependent on international preparation. That continues.

What has not happened as consistently is the role of the policy leaders in their ability to facilitate the continued development, by putting in policies to encourage steady/continued growth in the sport sector. The institutions still struggle to find solid footing in creating a more sustainable path towards wealth creation, better facilities, a wider range of service providers which will ultimately earn the island more medals at the global level.

The suggestion that the island is poor is an excuse in my opinion. So much research has been done to show the benefits of sport and how it can change a country’s economic activities if organized, managed and facilitated in a way to bring great return on investment.

This process must look at a path which looks at the link along the lines of education, training, development, research, marketing and how those key areas can earn the most bucks; while doing that should address social inclusion for balance.

Sport in Jamaica deserves better. Better is available. Again, it is time the folks who know better can make that change.

Posted in Leadership

Internships – My View

An internship is job training for a career – by choice or by requirement. The two major reasons for an internship, as I know it, are:

·         Job training

·         Fulfilling an academic mandate

An internship can help a student to figure out if they are or will be interested in a particular career and may eventually determine if the organization they got placed in, is somewhere they want to work in after graduation.

Internships have evolved and some organizations have collaborated with Corporate entities as part of

·         Corporate Social Responsibility

·         Community Development

·         Recruitment

Internship

Over the years, students have benefitted as more and more, there is a paid internship. History has shown that an internship is an exchange of services and the academic institution is obligated to offer the student the stipend package to afford the students the opportunity. This stipend ranges from costs to cover transportation, meals and “pocket” money. More recently, some companies have offered minimum pay to the student. That said the arrangement should include some level of payment.

The internship programme, an international practice, varies based on the region, but the common thing is, the intention is to offer students an opportunity to get a taste of the work world.

As an undergraduate and graduate student I was involved in a number of internships for three credits at a time. This was in the 1995 – 1998 period. The first one was for my broadcasting studies. I got no pay, none. It was at CBS Radio 88 in New York City. I had to be at work before 5am as I was placed on that shift with the well-sought after Ed Ingles. I woke up at 3:30 for 15 weeks, one day a week and I got an A for the course. I graduated. For the same BSc I did another at Consumers Union in Yonkers and I got paid US$12 an hour. It was also a three-credit course. I also got an A. For the MSc I opted to work in the HR Unit on campus and I got US$8 per hour. I did get another A.

All three experiences were great. One was to connect to the industry…and by the way, I got Knicks, Giants and Rangers tickets for free. The 2nd and 3rd were more fulfilling as I got paid, but I was just as committed to all three.

Educational institutions in designing courses of study must decide how they want to integrate students into the work world in a changing economic environment. Internships therefore have to be a lien item on both sets of institutions.

 

The integrity of the internship programmes is to be judged on a few things

·         Relevance to the course/s of study

·         Value added for the student

·         Impact of the organization of the potential workforce

·         How does the country benefit from the exchange between private/public sector and academic development

It is also important to note the differences between an internship, apprenticeship, practical study and vocational study. All have benefits to both students and institutions. The programmes should have an evaluation component which looks at the benefits and downfall to ensure, going forward; there is an adjustment which is market-ready and impacting for all.

 Internship 2

Posted in Advertising, Athletes, Branding, Caribbean, Jamaica, Sports, Track and Field

BECKFORD TO DONATE BOOKS TO INSTITUTIONS IN JAMAICA

September 12 – Author and Communications Specialist, Carole Beckford is donating 200 copies of her latest book – Jamaica Is In – Sport and Tourism to a number of educational/academic institutions across Jamaica.

Beckford who launched her second book last November at the Miami Book Fair and last December in Kingston, has used research in Sport, Sport and Tourism and Sport Marketing to highlight how value that industry can be to Jamaica and by extension the Caribbean region.

book-cover-2016
The Latest

The institutions to benefit are her alma maters – Ferncourt High, EXED Community College and Mico University Teachers’ College. Beckford is partnering with Yardie Sports to make this contribution possible.

Beckford noted that “Jamaica still has a competitive advantage in the region for anything sport, from its athletes, officials, infrastructure and support system and should be maximized for greater earnings. All the global research speaks to the growth in the industry and it is time Jamaica benefits in a more meaningful way.”

Dwayne Richards of Yardie Sports says, “This is a timely and excellent move by Carole Beckford as Jamaica transitions from the Bolt era to its next phase in athletics. It is time for more people to get a handle on what we need to do as a nation and this book is not only informative but a great teaching aid for everyone concerned. Yardie Sports is happy to be a part of this process and we look forward to the country growing in Sports Tourism because of this awesome initiative.”

The first set of books will be donated on Thursday, September 14 and will go the Mico University College library. The list will also include some libraries and other high schools across the island.

Books are also on sale at Usain Bolt Tracks and Records (Kingston) and the Jamaica Pegasus Gift Shop and online at https://www.bookfusion.com/books/117289-jamaica-is-in-sport-and-tourism

The books cost J$2,200 and US$17.50 online.

Posted in Athletes, Football, Jamaica, Leadership, Management, politics, Sport

Jamaica and Football Leadership

Football, potentially the sport to bring biggest economic returns to Jamaica is searching for a new President. Since Jamaica’s qualification to the World Cup in 1998, successes have been intermittent.

Football is the richest sport globally. Football also has the biggest television audience globally. Outside of the National Basketball Association (NBA), USA-based, football players combined represent the highest paid athletes in the world. That says a lot; but doesn’t quite add up for Jamaica.

Read here for reference http://www.totalsportek.com/most-popular-sports/

The search for a new President to lead Jamaica into the 2022 and 2026 World Cups (which should be the aim); must be based on a number of things. I will attempt to highlight some qualities, skill-sets and maybe even personality traits of who I think the leader should have most if not all.

The person should be

  • A Leader
  • A Manager
  • A mobilizer
  • A doer
  • A visionary

That leader should be a contemporary leader, one who can take us from vision to reality. There are some key success factors that this leader should be able to manage in the vision to reality road. He/She must be aware of the:

  • Political
  • Economic
  • Social
  • Technological

…impact the sport has to offer and therefore requires a team that can deliver with all this in mind. I know some of you are reading this and saying, but that is storybook type leadership. True, these things are written in books, but having worked in a few sporting organizations, I can tell you of the value of these factors.

In plain language though…it is important to have someone who knows the lay of the land; but should possess the pizzazz needed to transform national expectations to international goals, while attending to the needs of the boardroom.

The business of football is massive and with so many options to choose from in terms of income stream for athletes; income stream for countries via hosting of events and just the networking opportunities; Jamaica must seek to mobilize the best sporting mind to lead what could one of the biggest decisions we are due to take in Jamaica in a long time.

My suggestion is: go rational and not emotional; think with your head and not your heart. At the risk of sounding cold, pick the person who can transform the football in Jamaica into the most successful sporting bodies.

I won’t use this article to pick who I think is best to lead, but what I can say is the person exists in Jamaica.

What this means therefore is

  • Fix the schools’ programme (Manning and Dacosta Cups)
  • Fix the club system (make it more manageable and meaningful)
  • Prepare an international calendar
  • Host more matches at home (the office is a great location)
  • Negotiate good deals for broadcast
  • Expand your manager roles in your clubs. Have people who know the business manage players for the best results
  • Grow the business so experts/employees get paid competitive salaries

Nationally, we need to:

  • Improve playing facilities
    • Only use certified grounds
  • Review roster of officials
  • Have a better mix of experts at the top

Football globally has enough politics…so I say “stay away from the politicians.”

Jamaica needs a well-run football programme to sustain its stay as a sporting brand with all the returns necessary. Choose wisely!

#StayInTheGame

Posted in Athletes, Branding, Caribbean, Jamaica, Management, Sport

Modernizing Sport in Jamaica

July 1 – With the guard changing on and off the field of play for athletes and administrators in Jamaica; there is a glorious now opportunity to modernize and look at new and innovative ways to manage sport in Jamaica.

Also, maybe it is time we look away from volunteerism at some levels and pay those with the expertise to run sport in a way that is professional. What is expected from sport in terms of results is not sustainable if at all levels, experts aren’t paid for their services.

That said, the industry now has to place sharp focus on prioritizing its assets and point itself towards achieving the best return on investment and by extension, while meeting the other aims of:

  • creating the best environment for athletes to perform at a maximum
  • consolidating the technical expertise to ensure all athletes benefit from the best
  • focus on care – pre, during and post
  • partnerships that will offer the athletes income that is on par with what is happening globally
  • partnering with academic institutions to provide the research necessary to prepare for the next generation
  • providing and upgrading facilities for athletes
  • fan engagement for events
  • being considered a more serious seat at the table of the Tourism product.

We are way ahead of just the feel good moments which we get when our teams/athletes win; but those of us in the know should look at the more knowledge-based approach to offer solutions for the athletes, management and eventually the country to benefit from earnings from events; an industry that employs people and one that also balances people’s lives.

We cannot be satisfied with what we have now. When we look at what athletes, brands and media rights contribute to an overall pot, it must be disheartening to see that as an island, Jamaica has the talent, technical expertise and business expertise to have a sporting industry that is making a greater contribution to its GDP.

We all know the sport we should do well at to attract the big bucks, but as it is a diverse sector, we depend on those that is of great networking value, attracts the biggest crowds, has the greatest social appeal; we therefore should combine these for a successful model.

As the organizations meet in the upcoming months, a Think Tank must be a priority to look at a strategic plan for the next five to ten years for sport. My only request, is leave the politicians out of the mix. Following the strategic plan completion, we then put the cards on the table; show them the figures and negotiate waivers, support and legislation which will help to grow the industry.

Let’s Stay in the Game!