About 10 Australians who were here for the past two weeks being exposed to some of Jamaica’s best track and field coaches and methodologies departed the island today for their home country. During the time they interacted with some of Jamaica’s emerging athletes, some of our top athletes and icons, our challenging conditions, and our sports culture that is steeped in quality track and field.

Brought here through an agreement between the Business of Sport, GC Foster College and Hayden Knowles’ Competitive Edge, the ¬†exercise was one that demonstrated what can be done to develop another non-traditional revenue source to this cash-strapped nation. There are people who believe Jamaica needs to build fancy stadia and facilities to engage in sports tourism, and while there is an element of truth in that belief, the country cannot sit idly by and hope for such facilities. In truth even more than the much-needed facilities, Jamaica needs more creative minds that not only think outside the box, it needs those minds that have not been inside the so-called box.

Jamaica does need the facilities to back up its claim of being a sports-oriented nation but in the meantime we need to get going putting the one-one coco in the basket until the opportunity presents itself to build big. It is why this MOU between the Australian and Jamaican entities can pave the way for similar relationships from different countries because impressive facilities are one thing but a more personalized touch can go a lot further. Hayden Knowles, speaking on my radio show (Sportsnation Live), that airs on Nationwide radio, in an emotional response to my question about what he and his athletes would have taken from their two weeks here, said he now understands the passion and the hard work that Jamaicans put in to become the best sprinters in the world and have become infected by it.

Knowles, who has interacted with coaches and administrators from all over the world, described Maurice Wilson, coach of Holmwood Technical High, the head coach in Jamaica’s delegation to the London Olympic Games in 2012, and a lecturer at GC Foster College, as one of the best coaches in the world. Andrew McCabe, who ran on Australian’s sprint relay team in London backs Knowles’ claim. He revealed that what he learned from Wilson and the other coaches at the GC Foster College over the past two weeks has strengthened his resolve and belief that he can become the first Australian to break the 20-second barrier. McCabe, whose personal best is 20.70s over the 200 metres was unequivocal about wanting to return to Jamaica before the World Championships in Russia this summer because he feels it will enhance his chances of achieving his goal.

The coaching aside, all the Australians spoke about the bonds that were formed here, the respect and great hospitality they experienced from all the Jamaicans they interacted with. “From the administrators, coaches, athletes, even the cab drivers,” Knowles declared on my show, emotion causing his voice to break a little.

What this says in part is that even without fancy facilities we have a product we can exploit. We currently boast some of the best track and field coaches in the world. Because of Usain Bolt, Shelly Ann Frazer Pryce and the success they and others have brought to the sport over the past few years, have made track and field cool again, and the natural charm that Jamaicans tend to exude we have something that we can sell to the world.

Similar programmes can be started at Utech, UWI and other tertiary institutions on an ongoing basis exposing the best of what Jamaica has to offer to people who perhaps would not have another reason to visit.

From a financial standpoint, the Australians would have pumped a little money into the Jamaican economy but because it was only about 10 or so, that amount would not be significant but larger groups coming more frequently would have a much more significant impact in terms of adding to the Jamaican GDP. It wont solve the financial crisis that we find ourselves in but it could certainly go a long way into making lives a little easier for Jamaicans who have the skills and services that would be needed for such ventures.

Knowles said the Australians will be back and once news of the success of this programme spreads we know others will come. We just need to be ready to grasp those opportunities with both hands.

The opinions on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of The Gleaner.
The Gleaner reserves the right not to publish comments that may be deemed libelous, derogatory or indecent.
To respond to The Gleaner please use the feedback form.


  1. johntowit says:

    “There are people who believe Jamaica needs to build fancy stadias and facilities to engage in sports tourism….”. Probably you need to travel around the globe and look at the sports development that’s taking place everywhere. You dont even have to go far just travel down to Trinidad. They have Lights at the Queens Park Oval to fascilitate lucrative day/night overs cricket matches, even little St. Lucia, something that big big Jamaica’s Sabina Park is without and has no doubt lost out on millions (US) of dollars – money that the JCA could utilise to develop cricket in Jamaica and let it keep in touch with the competition. Trinidad even have a world class velodrome – no wonder their cyclists are performing well on da world stage. Does Jamaica have any cycling track?

    Look at netball, swimming, volleyball, etc. does Jamaica have proper design spaces for these art forms. Yetstill year in year out we invite Austrailia, New Zealand, etc to play in dilapidated arena and lately nat. indoor centre. Full time Jamaica’s Govt. exercise self-pride and start parading our athletes in state-of-the-art arenas or else we will get left behind in the business of sports tourism. And if its serious about 2030 – because if these things are not in place then I’m afraid the 2030 vision talk is just pure child’s fantasy – superficial thought.

    If Jamaica is serious about being a global player in sports and fulfill this 2030 mission – then they better get cracking because they’re late, very. The more I research into this myth about sports tourism the more kinks I discover.

    Then all of these fascilities needs supporting infrastructure ( and if u notice I have’nt even included da Nat. Stadium yet – that needs a complete blog by itself), i.e. proper roads with adequate walk-ways (if u look around worlwide cities 2day u would’ve noticed cycle lanes are now being included – supporting sustainable development gearing ppl away from polluting viechles), variable transportations, sufficent hotel accommodation, security, night life, etc.

    The writer of the above probably would best be advised to do a crash course in – Urban Design !!!

  2. johntowit says:

    Jamaicans have been far too long brainwashed into accepting mediocrity. 50+ years ago when Norman Washington Manley with hindsight, now regarded as a man of foresight. He ordered the building of our 1st National Stadium, in those days Jamaica’s economy was in surplus and ordinary people alike fellow politicians were all clamouring about use da resources to better use (what about today, economy 1.7 trillion in da red & 140+% debt to GDP ratio). If he was a coward Jamaica would’nt have been able to increase significantly its international profile by showing da ”developed” world that yes – little Jamaica can host big events like the Norman Manley Games and the Commonwealth Games in what was regarded at da time as a state-of-the-art fascility. It fascilitated over the decades what is now regarded as the best school athletics championships in the world, + countless other sports games, etc.

    More than 50 years have elapsed and a significantly increased population still has to be fussing & fighting to buy a limited number of “grand stand” tickets and fight to get in on da day, in these modern day of technology (If one was built today da whole “bowl” could be covered). With all that stress to experience a space that has long passed its “sell-bye-date”; Is it dis-ability friendly? Has da writer of the above drivel ever go into one of those so-called bleachers toilet? What about the seating/furniture arrangements? I dont have time and space to go into all da issues here.

    Da whole east New Kingston, Liguanea, Swallow Field, Vinyard Town, Mountain View area could’ve been significantly transformed; e.g. Hotels, Restuarants, improved spaces for shopping and retail activity, security, new roads, transportation links, new mode of transportation, da lists goes on.

    What you are saying is that we have performers e.g. Fraser-Pryce, but we dont have proper places to invite/accommodate international guests to come and enjoy these high class performances. Fans need to experience these events in comfort and security as is the norm in other countries.

  3. johntowit says:

    You see along the Long Mountain range between Mountain View Avenue, most of those lands close to the mountains are squatters’ settlerment (evict or buy-out those with land titles). So on leaving the air port or comming from the east, we could construct a highway (toll) from the Flour Mills clinging to da sides of the mountain comming all the way up with enter/exits to both Vinyard Town and the new stadia. Right there and then we kill so many birds with one stone: Security forces now have better access along the mountain (curtail/control crime within that corridor), reduces the traffic burden on mountain view avenue, create shorter journey time for businesses and tourists people comming in from the air port to the universities and New Kingston, etc.

    And that’s just 1 aspect of related infrastructural development (new stadia), they’re countless more.

    We cannot afford to continue to fall behind; I suspect that this sea-port upgrade to fascilitate and take advantage of the Panama canal expansion might be delayed for years to come. Why?

    Because Jamaica’s politician stealing from the public purse and engage in corruption over da decades, these monies and resources could have putted Jamaica much further ahead infrastructurewise. So when opportunities like these come around we should’ve been able to capitalise on it – that’s if we had disciplined and diligent stewards. The Panama Canal expansion was’nt a secret, as a matter of fact from we saw ship builders started building these supersized ships in da 90′s, the govt. should’ve applied foresight in at least contributing to a fund to fascilitate this massive expansion that is needed. I’ve seen contributors on both newspaper trumpeting the need 4 these expansion since the new millenia.

    And today what we have, Mr. Hylton looks lost for words and perplexed as to how they’re going to go about it recently in Trelawny, because simply put I doubt if designs have started. All he was saying was that Jamaica stand to make billions in 5 – 10 years time without even saying when they expect construction to begin and duration. Mind you the Panama expansion has now been delayed by 6 months, but because Jamaica is so far behind I doubt we will get much done by 2016.

  4. We will be fooling ourselves if we believe that the present sporting facilities are adequate enough to attract international revenue. Sometime ago, I proposed that the country develop a major sports academy near to Montego Bay. This academy would serve the following purposes: filter students who wish to continue Sports from the High Schools, instead of the competitiveness being created with schools with more facilities; create an international programme for all other countries interested in short-term stints that the Australians undertook; facilities nearby comprising Olympic swimming pool, football stadium, track and fields AND accommodation to be rented to both local and international athletes / professionals.

    Proposal could be made to our athletes who have been successful so far, Jamaican coaches and private organisations on a share-holding bases, match funded by the government.

    I implore all Jamaicans to seriously think outside of the box and realise such a venture is to be established as soon as possible, especially if Jamaicans continue to excel at the Rio meet. PLEASE!! SOMEONE BACK ME UP!

Leave a Reply

4 comments so far
levyl Posted by: levyl January 28, 2013 at 10:57 am