Jamaica’s Sports Minister Urges Corporate Jamaica to Support Athletes

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Jamaica’s Minister of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports, Olivia Grange, has urged businesses, specifically in the private sector, to support Jamaica’s athletes.

She was speaking at a ceremony to hand over a US$15,000 cheque to the Jamaica Bobsleigh Federation by the Sports Development Foundation (SDF), Friday (Jan. 9) at the SDF headquarters in Kingston. The donation will go towards the Bobsleigh team’s preparations for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada.

Minister Grange noted that through their support of the athletes, businesses will become more viable as their products will attain greater reach, and that the country will also benefit, as its popularity increases.

“Promoting our team and our athletes, acts as a catalyst for increased tourist arrivals,” she pointed out, referring to Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett’s announcement of increased arrivals to Jamaica, despite the global economic downturn. “I am confident that our success in Beijing, China, played a part in that process,” she opined.

Minister Grange noted that in addition to the Ministry’s full support of the Jamaica Bobsleigh team, Jamaica’s presence has now been “cranked up” in winter sports, “because we are determined to medal and to bring as much glory to Jamaica, as we did in Beijing, by showing that although we don’t have ice, and snow, we can be just as good.”

She noted that 1988 was Jamaica’s entry point into Winter Sports, with the Jamaica Bobsleigh team, “so the new bobsleigh team, now seeks to qualify for the 2010 Olympics and I want to say to them they are most deserving of our commitment and our continued support, and we are going to be right there with you.”

The Jamaica Ski team, she said, is also being supported, and commended the two overseas athletes, with Jamaican parentage, who chose to give up their United Kingdom (UK) and United States (US) citizenship as well as their ranking on the US and UK teams to represent Jamaica.

Minister Grange further pointed out that the Ministry also assisted the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), to get its under-20 football team to attend the International Federation of Football Association (FIFA) qualifying round in the eastern Caribbean. She also disclosed that a cheque is to be handed over to the Jamaica Ski team, next week.

The Minster commended the SDF for its co-operation, “and for responding promptly to the needs of our athletes and our sports men and women.”

President of the Jamaica Bobsleigh Federation, Dudley Stokes, in his response, noted that the SDF has consistently supported the efforts of the Jamaica Bobsleigh Federation, “and this has allowed us to really focus on developing our athletes in the off-season training, and we are seeing some of the results of this now, in that new athletes on the ice, for the fist time overseas, have been getting start times, within a few tenths of the world’s best.”

“It’s a situation we have never really been in, but a combination of being able to conduct our out of season training camps and the training facility we have at GC Foster College, has allowed us to develop our athletes much more quickly than we would have been able to, and the SDF has been a corner stone of this through the years,” he added.

The Sports Development Foundation’s mission is to contribute to the development of the nation through sports, by providing infrastructural and athletic development, and providing assistance to national federations.

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