For the 2011 – 2012 period in the collegiate system in the Jamaica, close to 150 student-athletes have been awarded scholarships from colleges. Mico University, University of Technology, University of the West Indies and the GC Foster College of Physical Education & Sport have so far registered their intention to prepare and improve on the development of athletes from various sporting disciplines.
It suggests that for the next four years, we should see our student athletes continue with their excellent performances on the field of play, but also have greater access to acquire requisite training and development in other professional areas.
These scholarships are a welcome addition to the growth and development of the sport industry as Jamaica progresses and grow into the sporting mecca of the world. This effort has to be lauded. While the colleges/universities have their own agenda in terms of collegiate competitions, it may also be a great idea to have the athletes at least meet once/twice each year to exchange notes and ideas on their varied experiences in a controlled setting. The offices of Students Affairs may want to coordinate on their calendars.
We know the value of a great education especially to athletes who seek the best opportunity for earning ability and it is the responsibility of the athlete to seek this out, but the system can and is playing its role. The efforts by the college system are also important as it is this age group, 17 – 26, that poses some challenges, according to researchers. So I am hoping we can officially track some of these individuals to look at their overall progress in highlighting the validity of the programmes and what shortfalls there may be, with recommended improvements.
While we are growing the industry though, it is also of value that we train to provide the support in administration, technical, social and other developmental areas. We have seen how quickly the sport sector is growing and is bursting at the seams in some areas; but we have to be mindful that the athlete base does not outgrow the support we can offer.
It is therefore important to have better access to courses in sport management, sport psychology, sport administration, sport nutrition, statistics, budgeting and finance as areas that will complement the training being done on the academic side for the athletes. The Business of Sport while having the athletes can only be stronger if the support grows. The formal four-year programmes do offer some of the related courses, but there are creative ways to offer professional modules which last for up to 45 hours, making it also in keeping with international standards. What this does too is attract some people from ‘outside’ the industry to make better use of some skills and knowledge.
An athlete ultimately wants to perform at the highest level of competition, either in the world championship of their respective sport or the Olympic Games, and while London is just around the corner, the Brazil 2016 programme should start now. I am excited at these developments and we look forward to the support from all. Well done!