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Rethinking Sport in Jamaica

Remove the S from CHASE… Boost the SDF

KINGSTON – For more than a century there has been a Jamaican athlete that has impressed someone, somewhere across the world.  The early days of cricket tours in and out of the West Indies, international boxing cards, football, netball and host of other sports, served a bit of a signal to the world that Jamaica was and continues to be a big part of any sport conversation. 

Ask any track and field fan, cricket (yes, believe it or not); netball, football, basketball fan and a Jamaican athlete’s name can come up. 

Over time, sport has been funded by private and public means. What has been consistent though, is the first-class performance that has been maintained, sustained and enhanced by the athletes. 

In 1995 the game changed somewhat, the Government of the day approved a plan to start the Sports Development Foundation. The SDF was established as an independent body to contribute to the development of the nation through sports.

With sport emerging (at the time) as a major contributor to the island’s economic activities, there was a thought that sport needed more. The agency in its early days focused on infrastructure and capacity building. The Mona Hockey Field (astro turf); several football fields, National Indoor Sport Centre were among some of the venues that were renovated, upgraded and built from scratch. The capacity building focused on administrative development of officials from at least 40 sporting disciplines. 

As you read along, and you are in the business of sport, you can clearly identify the gaps for a country that has produced so many world-class athletes. So whilethe track and field performances have been outstanding to date, to gain and maintain the competitive edge and move ahead, there needs to be a re-thinking of how sport is: 

  • Funded 
  • Managed 
  • Researched 
  • Marketed 
  • Re-Developed

It is with those five key areas, that my recommendations for Sport for Jamaica going forward include: 

  • Boost the work of the SDF
    • Remove the S from CHASE (they can determine what to do with C-H-A-E
    • Increase the staff numbers to include a:
      • Planner 
      • Researcher 
      • Marketer
      • Developer 

It is clear that Jamaica’s technical talent is at a great level – coaches and athletes continue to break the ceiling of performance. Most of the major sporting events have consistent work being done with their technical staff. 

The next level is needed and in another decade, if we are not careful, we will be chasing dreams in the key areas that will ensure that the next generation has access to the same enabling environment. 

GC Foster, UTECH, UWI and Mico continue to train Sport Officials in education, management and preventative care; but an elite athlete cannot in 2023 & beyond, compete without the support of branding and marketing to take them to the top of their games. 

In redefining how Jamaica as a nation treats this industry, there are also some policy decisions which should be happening simultaneously. SPORT should have its own Ministry.

This is what I envisage the team should look like from the policy and operational side 

  • Ministry of Sport
    • Minister 
    • Minister of State 
    • Permanent Secretary 
    • Director of Sport + 5
  • Sport Development Foundation (agency)
    • Managing Director
      • Directors of Marketing, Research, Finance 
      • Corporate Planner (to deal with bilaterals, administration, academic development, infrastructure
      • Event Manager (incoming and outgoing delegations, permits, venue updates) 

Change is inevitable if we want to be successful. 

The research element of the business cannot be overstated, as it is the data we collect and how we use it to inform our next set of moves on and off the field that will determine our capacity to handle, manage and deliver a world class sporting industry run by those who are capable. 

In the next column, I will pick the team who can and should be asked to deliver on this plan. Until then…


Always a Step Ahead

Education Entertainment Jamaica


KINGSTON, Jamaica – One man, two conversations, almost 50 global scholars, educators, activists, advocates and commentators gathered to discuss the work and life of Marcus Garvey.

Dr Julius Garvey supported by the Whirlwind Group and The Mico University College engaged the world in the Education of the African Child and the Power of Education using Marcus Garvey’s body of work as the basis for the discussion.

What is evident is Garvey’s work continues to influence a significant part of what happens in the black community in and out of the classroom, in the streets, in the communities and in spaces of those who seek to identify “who they are and what they would like to become.”

The topics explored, were not limited to just dialog, but to focus on finding solutions around the accomplishments of the African Community surrounding, but not limited to:

  • Pedagogy and the way we teach
  • Teaching and Learning of Garveyism
  • Combating Anti-social behavior
  • Garvey’s inspiration for Music and Musicians
  • How Garveyism can be used to empower a Nation

“The powerful discussions were a delight for us here at the Institute and we were delighted to be able to organize this with the Mico team,” says Dr Garvey. “The strength, we believe is in the Unity, deemed significant, in keeping with my father’s way of working.”

Professor Rupert Lewis, whose work as a Garveyite stands out, was part of the Mico Team and praised the effort of the conference. He noted that the presentations were “grounded in Garvey’s philosophy and applied Garveyism in business, technology and education.” Professor Lewis is already ready for next year’s renewal.

The organizing team will have highlights of the conference available soon on Garvey TV.


Marcus Garvey – Two Conversations

KINGSTON, JamaicaGarvey’s Experience – the power of Education and Education of the African Child are two conversations that will be had October 15 – 18 this year in a virtual format.

The Mico College University and the Garvey Institute have combined their resources to present a powerful series to be held over four days to look at the life and work of Jamaica’s first national hero, the late Rt Hon Marcus Garvey.

The Mico, which issued a call for papers, will host sessions on the theme, Garvey’s Experience – the power of Education targeting its student-teacher population across Jamaica and the Caribbean; while the Garvey Institute is aiming at a more global market with the theme Education of the African Child.

The Mico initiative is lead by a team with Prof Clinton Hutton of the Institute of Technological and Education Research (ITER); while Dr Julius Garvey (son) has partnered with the Whirlwind Group.

According to Dr Garvey, “both conversations are necessary to continue the dialog of my father’s legacy and by combining this mixture of academic, corporate and community, we believe this effort will go a far way in ensuring that the work filters to the wider public  and the next generation.”

Prof Hutton revealed that Garveyism is on the course outline at The Mico. And with a Garvey Club in place, the teacher training institution is well on its way to impart in its own indomitable style, the work and times of the great man.

“We intend for all student-teachers and academics to join in our conversation as we aim to fulfill our mandate of our institution.”

Both conversations will have international, regional and national presenters and will have input of creators in the Arts.

So far, the virtual conference has attracted support from the Whirlwind Group, Jamaica Pegasus, Garvey TV and Strictly Roots Water.

A full schedule of all the presenters will be available shortly.

Advertising Athletes Branding Leadership Management Sport

On becoming a professional athlete

September 25 – With more money being pumped into professional sport globally, there are more athletes who are intent on becoming pros. But there are some basic pointers those athletes need to follow. Here are some:

  1. Get involved at a fairly young age
  2. Train smartly with someone who has your best interest
  3. Dedicate yourself to a sustained programme with clear goals
  4. Keep your body in great shape
    1. Eat right, if you can afford it, employ a nutritionist
  5. Pursue education, it will help later on
    1. You may even apply for a scholarship
  6. Join a club that promotes your sport

There are some other basics (health-wise) that you will need to check regularly

  • Eyesight and hearing
  • Reflexes
  • Heart condition
  • Dental

Additionally, as you head towards the pro-game, secure some skills sets around you, which are necessary for you and your management team to be successful

  • Legal
    • Intellectual property
    • Image rights
    • Copyright
  • Financial and Auditing (compliance)
  • Planning and Budgeting
  • Marketing and Communications
  • Branding
  • Commercial
  • Stylist/Lifestyle coach
  • Management – events, photo shoots, courtesy calls

Finally, be willing to compete hard and smart at all times; be disciplined and have your passport ready to travel.


This is really a snapchat of a professional’s athlete’s life, until next time…stay in the game.

Advertising Athletes Branding Caribbean


March 12 – An athlete’s job has changed in the last decade. While the primary focus is still to perform well in their respective discipline, the job has become more diverse. It is therefore the responsibility of the athlete and management team to determine a few things

  1. How am I going to maintain and improve my performance aiming at all times for world-class standards?
  2. How am I going to attract the most lucrative deals to ensure that my earnings are maximised?
  3. How am I going to meet the demands of the market by being a role model and one worthy of emulating?
  4. How am I going to play by the rules, yet fulfil the changing demand of organisations that keep me in check?
  5. How am I going to become satisfied knowing that once I retired I can be able to maintain my living standards, while even still contributing to the development of my sport?

There are some organisations we need to focus on like the World Anti-Doping Agency, established since 1999 – aimed at leading a collaborative worldwide movement for doping-free sport. This organisation today can impact on an athlete’s life in such a way, that in one act, can end a career or cause irreparable damage.

The recent disclosure of Maria Sharapova ten-year use of a banned substance is just one of the many incidents which have become public, but WADA is clear on their mandate and you can read here to see how they function

A significant number of athletes across all sporting disciplines have received from a slap on the wrist to suspensions to life bans

This is track and field’s list

This is the NBA’s list

This is the list of 99 who has tested positive for meldonium, the substance Sharapova has been using for ten years

Some would say we are in a crisis with the use of drug in sport, but are we? What it really boils down to, is the athlete is the ONLY one responsible for anything that is ingested. Simple.


Athletes now are making far more money than a lot of other professionals, and like the traditional pros, they have support teams, or at least they should. Part of having a management team is to

  1. Ensure that team is equipped to guide you accordingly
  2. Make business and related decisions in the best interest of the team and/or the athlete
  3. Be aware
  4. Represent the “brand” in a way that is always up to international standard

So for example, completing whereabouts forms each quarter, while a tedious exercise, is one which is way too simple to be ignored.

We know that earnings are important to an athlete’s existence, however, the more an athlete earns is the more responsibility that comes with that. It is key to note too that while it is important to have a number of relationships with brands, they each have their own mode of operation and want different things at different times and could make the athlete work far harder off the field of play than one. There is an important way to strike that balance – work with brands that compliment.


As mentioned earlier, athletes are top earners and like any other professional MUST see their craft as a job which is important to their well-being and to the support of their families. One simple click on Social Media can cause tremendous damage; one (failed) missed test is a reputational issue and could cause potential partners to reconsider their options to work with an athlete. So while there are far more opportunities, there are far more responsibilities.

Here is my recommendation to all athletes

  • Show up for work
  • Train hard to beat the world
  • Be responsible in public spaces
  • Attend workshops and seminars once in a while
  • Visit with other professional athletes if you can
  • Engage a capable team of professionals for support
  • Follow the rules
  • Use social media responsibly
  • Plan for an after life

Those recommendations look simple but it is hard work, but once you are up to it, you can do it.

Branding Leadership Management Sport

Ten Things An Athlete Must Always Remember

Saturday, January 9 – This week could almost be described a distraction to sports. After news flashed about the off the field matters of cricket’s Chris Gayle, football’s YaYa Toure and Luis Suarez, we now know that the off the field activities are scrutinized even more than ever. We also see where the IAAF and FIFA continue to make the news for boardroom issues rather than the next World Cup or Olympic Games.

With that said though and with the evidence and chronicling of all those events, are athletes role models or the right symbols? I leave that for you to answer.


This blog will serve though as a reminder to all aspiring, current and even retired athletes that whether you are running, jumping, bowling, batting, swimming or riding, you are under constant watch and here are some things you should remember…

  1. Your sport is your work, and when you are at work, you should conduct yourselves in an appropriate manner
  2. When you are at work, you must consider your work colleagues and how your work may impact on them
  3. You are what you text, tweet, post on Facebook, YouTube or any other social media space
  4. Even in off-season you are still the star and so your conduct should still be in keeping with good standards
  5. During this time sit with an expert who can guide you on how to communicate in the most effective and efficient way
  6. Your country must come first. It is really where you got your start
  7. Align yourselves with the right brands and maximise while you are still active
  8. Create a Foundation somewhere in the middle of your career, it will become a great way to give back
  9. Sign autographs once in a while
  10. Do not ingest any substances you cannot declare

Leigh Steinberg in a column in 2012 wrote – professional sports is only a gateway for the few. But when Heavyweight Boxing Champion Lennox Lewis said on a public service announcement that “Real Men Don’t Hit Women” he made a great contribution to young people’s perception of what is embodied in true masculinity. Disaffected teenagers may tune out authority figures–parents, teachers, and commercial messages. A superstar athlete can permeate that perceptual screen to deliver a message of inspiration and hope.

Whether or not you choose to become a role model, you become one.


Branding Caribbean Leadership Management Media Music Sport

Sports management and leadership going forward

December 9 – For the purpose of this article, I will list a few things about the current global sports market and how it can impact on economic development. When we talk about the sports market today, we think of

  1. Broadcast rights – television, internet, mobile devices, satellite radio and local radio
  2. Sponsorship and Naming Rights
  3. Merchandising – from a pin to an anchor
  4. Ticketing

In other words the market is wide open. The audience is no longer divided by borders, but instead sports content can be consumed anywhere, anytime and anyone with a device and if one is at the right place at the right time.


Now, more athletes are getting paid and more athletes are getting a lot of money. Some sports however have to contend with the view that worldwide audiences among them vary depending on whether the event is a National Championship, Regional Championship, World Championship or is a feature of an Olympic Games (summer/winter).


The sporting organisations which up to 30 years ago were largely run by volunteers are now being run by business executives with specific expertise in commercial operations, marketing and business development. What has happened too is the organisations are becoming flatter. The FIVB for example replaced the hierachy with a President, Executive Vice Presidents from the (strategic) regions and Commissions to ensure the work is carried out – see more on the structure here

While FIFA is currently experiencing turmoil and retains the number one slot for television audience worldwide, volleyball, unbelievably is in the top five. The beach element remains one of the most watched in the Summer Olympics Games. According to Mintzberg and Quinn (1991) “organisations with political designs have no dominant mechanism of coordination,”; in a table used by Thibault and Quarterman, Contemporary Sport Management, the summary shows that a sporting organisation with a simple design yields greater efficiency.

The publication goes on to state that the simple structures are accompanied by strategic plans to cope with the ‘environment’. The environment sport is in today speaks to commercial viability based on the four key areas mentioned in the top of this article.

Obviously the text would reference the information in a situation where the athletes/teams for which these plans are in effect for are at the top of their games and so all is required is to adjust structure and governance to bring success.


Sporting dynasties are not on extended wins as much as they were and new franchises, teams, countries are emerging to clip the dominance of those which once were always winning. The scientific approach to sports is in play and those who invest from the bottom up will have sustained top performances for years to come.

Caribbean in a dilemma

The Caribbean Sporting Industry has to re-focus its attention on an economic model one which has teams/athletes that can attract highest levels of sponsor partnership; one where athletes get endorsements from products and services in the region and certainly where consumers can get access to the content. What then can the Caribbean do to ensure that it captures some of the pie of the ever-growing sport market?

Here are some suggestions:

  • Make travel across the Caribbean more reasonable and convenient
  • Upgrade venues to host traditional and non-traditional events
  • Maximise media rights arrangements
  • Train existing personnel and make efforts to attract the next generation to be a part of the industry
  • Tertiary-level institutions should do much more research into the prospects for the industry
  • Create a package of regional sporting ambassadors

The Caribbean has enough stars of its own, it can create applicable merchandise to supply the world as the events and venues are properly prepared and managed.

A recent cultural and creative industries study done by CISAC – the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers – is pleased to present the release of a new study published by EY titled “Cultural Times – The First Global Map of Cultural and Creative Industries”.

For the first time, this survey quantifies the global economic and social contribution of this important sector. The study analyses 11 Cultural and Creative Industries (CCI) sectors: advertising, architecture, books, gaming, movies, music, newspapers/magazines, performing arts, radio, television and visual arts. The top three employers are visual arts (6.73m), books (3.67m) and music (3.98m). While the study has not pointed to sport content in particular – we know sport is such a valuable component to all the areas mentioned.

Read the study when you have the time

The need to consolidate all the efforts is urgent and the Caribbean has to identify that its culture (sport too) is world recognised as one of the most known worldwide, but the figures don’t add up.

The call is for the region to pull all the resources and use the 2016 Olympic preparation platform to guide and provide a template for three to five years.



Student-Athletes Transfer Dilemma? Or Not?

WRITTEN BACK IN NOVEMBER 2012 – As the debate rages on regarding the transfer of athletes in the high schools system for the sake of playing for a coach/team/school there are a number of issues which must be addressed.

  • The transfer story is old – dating back to at least four decades
  • It is not exclusive to Jamaica
  • Parents are as much a part of the problem as is the recruiters
  • The regulatory/monitoring bodies MUST be strengthened to ensure the goals of the education industry are met

The dynamics of education are changing, strange but true…no longer are children being ‘forced’ to pursue the traditional career paths, but instead go after lucrative career areas, much of which include study in the non-traditional areas, some of which are frowned upon. While the split in where the choices should go, continue, the system is moving ahead and as a result policy leaders should be aware of what these changes are and create an environment for as much of us to exist as possible. I will cite examples from the states of Georgia, Florida and California where a lot of these problems exist. They have the equivalent of what is in Jamaica – the Inter Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) and they are in charge of monitoring what happens in the schools. They monitor * students requests for transfer * schools from where the transfer is being sought * schools to which the transfer is required * grades of the students * general school records which may reveal behaviour * ability of parents to afford where applicable, or accommodate, sometimes in the case of relocation I am of the firm belief that parents have a responsibility to the children and should not be forced to move their children from school to school while accepting gifts. In deciding to move a child, careful consideration should be given whether the move is an advantage to the child in the pursuit of higher education.


By the way, higher education in this instance can also relate to going after dreams of being an athlete, famous dancer, soulful singer etc. If the school the child wishes to go to offers the best environment for the student to learn, then move. The move is to be done within the rules of the system. The state of Georgia got 6,000 such requests in the 2010 – 2011 season and 76 per cent of that list was granted. The regulatory team keeps watch. In Florida, the Florida High School Athletics Association is the body which monitors the requests. So too is the Southern Commission in California. I say we boost the human resources of ISSA to help them with the work they have already started to ensure that the moves are above board and there is very little, if any, inappropriate behaviour by schools and/or coaches. Having identified that there is an issue, I say we move to resolve the issue soon and let’s look at the 2013 to 2014 season how we can enforce the rules established by ISSA. The history of dialogue and setting up of teams in Jamaica (Task Forces) to look at issues doesn’t have resolutions coming too quickly, but if we can ‘stamp out’ some of the known areas of activity where the transfers are blatant, then we would have been a few steps ahead. Parents have the responsibility to offer their children the best option, but not for a fridge, stove, car or money.


Leadership Sport

Transforming the Game – The Business of Sport

KINGSTON, May 3 – One of the greatest endorsements you can get from an event is when the participants offer positive feedback. The 4th running of the Business of Sport International just ended in Kingston and from all accounts participants were pleased. 

Collegiate hurdler, Megan Simmonds, tweeted the morning after 

 –  & her team did an excellent job with their business of sport conference. I recommend it to EVERYONE with a career in sport.
it was so informative, career and mind changing that haha i actually wanted it to be longer!! Haha
Simmonds is down to compete in the 100 metres hurdles at the Jamaica International Invitational Simmonds is pursuing an undergraduate degree in Media and Communications. 
The conference was held under the theme – Transform the Game – and the conversations/presentations, reflected same. The two days provided an up close and personal opportunity for athletes and their support team to include teachers, lecturers and sport administrators to field questions and get them answered by the experts. 
One of the many highlights of the two-day event was the lunch time presentation on day one, presented by Jamaica’s Minister of Education, Hon. Ronald Thwaites who opined that ” there is need for a rebranding exercise for PE and Sport because overtime parents and students had begun to prefer the traditional subjects in the Sciences and Humanities while decrying technical and vocational subjects. The local and international labour markets are pointing to the need for persons to have a good mixture of all the subjects.” The Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna, the evening before revealed that over the next two years, the world will have 60 million people who are teenagers and it is the creative industries which include sport that will have to provide a lot more of the job opportunities for them as they pursue tertiary level education.
Thwaites went to to say “as the transformation takes place, teachers and guidance councillors need to include sport as a career option to students –not everyone will become a star athlete. However, a star athlete needs a trainer, a physiotherapist, a nutritionist (very essential), a chef, a manager, a marketing agent, a publicist and the list goes on.”
Some of the recommendations coming from Day two included – cross fertilization in sport where maybe “the collaborative approach would help, especially in the smaller sports,” according to Sport Administrator, Don Anderson, while Courtney Lodge has put on the table that maybe “it is time we select the best people for the job.” Lodge was suggesting the use of the Balanced Scorecard as a tool, which can be used to “measure and manage”. 
As the Jamaican industry is all set to evolve and be revolutionized, collegiate officials, Dalton Myers (University of the West Indies – UWI) and Maurice Wilson (GC Foster College of Physical Education and Sport) are recommending that more care should be taken with what children do between ages 11 – 14 and then 15 – 18. One for more enjoyment and the latter, for more organised competition. Both are suggesting that Collegiate Sport can bridge the gap between high school performance and the elite pursuit. 
Participants came from Barbados, Bahamas, Cayman Islands, St. Kitts Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago, Namibia, USA, Canada, UK and Jamaica while the online participants were worldwide. The Business of Sport stands committed to continue the dialogue, while aiming to influence the adjustments to facilitate a more enabling environment in Jamaica and the region. 
The event is a production of Strategic Corporate Interventions, Samuda and Johnson and Carole Beckford & Associates. 

UWI and UTech – no merger for me

The Gleaner’s editorial – Consider merging UTech with UWI took me by surprise on Monday, March 24. Early that morning I was watching a TV programme and based on the conversation I thought “both Universities have to find a way to co-exist.” I still mean it, by the way. However, I never once thought of a merger.

As a child, my understanding of the University of the West Indies (UWI) was the theory-based, research-oriented more traditional type of institution; while College of Arts, Science and Technology – CAST – (as it was called then) was the more practical, hands on training institution guided by the advance of technology.

Over the years those rules/guidelines changed and I have observed some overlaps and some what I would consider – running out of its lane type expansion, when UTech delved into law and even dentistry. It made too much of a blatant attempt to compete with UWI instead of moving programmes it had, which could do with broadening the scope. Its Technical Education programme for example, I thought would have been useful, as we see students these days leaning closer to more vocational types of study (global trend).

UTech made its early move when after its association with “World Class Athletes” developed its Faculty of Sport and Science. They have made some serious investment into that area and in two years would have released research information valuable to the growth and development of the sport industry.

While the UWI has essentially stayed in its lane and remained traditional, it trots on slowly on its traditional track with a few additions but has not really used the Mona School of Business in the most effective way.The equivalent of what the MSB anywhere in the world has exposed its research information on several sectors and established the trends of the new workforce. The Caribbean institution has played its own games and the overlapping within its own corridors via Cave Hill, St. Augustine, has done little for Caribbean integration by offering a few of the programmes at each location; the ones which would normally have students starting in one and finishing in the other is fading. The next generation of leaders are not getting the same opportunity to start co-existing like our current leaders (which is debatable, I know); however it is our duty to facilitate. 

Both universities are valuable to the existence of this country tertiary academic base and a merger would not broaden, but in fact narrow the vision of a country whose vision is to be world class by 2030. I would urge both leaders though to insist on the following

  •          Wider research into areas of competitive advantage and how each would enhance the courses/curricula already existing
  •          Re-engage the non-traditional society more than it has – both are in communities that need an injection of academic thrust
  •          Commit courses/training to political and other leaders – be more practical and open
  •          Find a way to academise mastery is non-traditional areas so the society is able to recognise that work that is done outside of formal settings can be considered worthwhile –  Evaluate work of those who have not had a chance to educate formally and quantify the work done in academic terms 

 By 2030, my dream is that we have an educated population, but with the tools necessary to take on the world i.e. be globally competitive. A merger will not achieve this.