It is widely accepted that sport is a “shelf life” and the life thereafter is the real deal. It is also universally acknowledged that a good education is one’s best pension and in its absence one may very well be at risk.
Subscribing to this maxim are directors of the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) and the Jamaica Paralympic Association (JPA) as well as Olympic Solidarity Scholarship recipients.
Wolmerian Michael Frater, JOA director and chairman of its Athletes’ Commission, is an Olympic gold relay medallist and the 2005 World Athletics Championships 100m silver medallist, among other sterling accomplishments. But he is revered as an inductee of the Lettermen’s Hall of Fame at the Texas Christian University where he distinguished himself in being named, in 2003, an
All American Academic and was a multiple All American Athlete. He maintains that “there can be no doubt. You’ve got to engage your mind formally and in a structured way if you wish to increase your chances at a successful career and be able to run and endure that marathon in life. Education, training and knowledge are the water stops along the route that refresh and hydrate you.”
Education indeed refreshes the mind by conditioning the thought process to go beyond ambitions and this is exemplified in Olympic Solidarity scholar and Olympian Toni-Ann Williams, who created history in 2016 when, in Rio, she became the first Jamaican to represent the country in gymnastics at an Olympic Games.
Having thanked the JOA for affording her the opportunity in 2021, she said then, “Never thought I would be going back to school; but I’m excited to announce that I will be moving to Europe for the next two years to pursue a master’s degree in sports administration, ethics and integrity. I want to switch gears in athletics from just being an athlete to understanding the administration part of the sports’ world.”
The current directorship of the JOA continues to place emphasis on acquiring a functional education. In its “Stamina” lecture and practical sessions, which were inaugurated in 2018, and through its protocols of partnership with The University of the West Indies Faculty of Sport, the United States Sport Academy (USSA) and the University of Birmingham, the governing body emphasises the value and currency of knowledge based learning and investment.
JOA honorary treasurer Nichole Case, a certified project management professional and business continuity manager, provides a policy statement of the apex body. “Education is a critical pillar for continuous development and transformation in all industries and sports is no exception. We must harness the knowledge and skills needed to effectively plan, execute and innovate.
“JOA remains committed to leveraging education as the foundation for transforming sports in Jamaica and to supporting education initiatives through protocols of co-operation with universities, the provision of scholarships to pursue tertiary education for our athletes and by offering them advisory courses and workshops in enabling them to manage their lives and livelihoods,” she said.
Olympic Solidarity scholar and silver medallist in the recently concluded 2023 FISU Summer World University Games in Chengdu in the People’s Republic of China, Kai Chang, speaks directly to administrators.
“I believe that sports administrators should have a knowledge base higher than a foundation level training in the field of sports, such as a degree or level 2/3 certificate to be able to properly provide guidance and expertise on contemporary sporting matters as well as devising ways to maintain longevity of athletes, capitalise from the sport and attain the acme of sporting excellence,” he said.
JOA and JPA President Christopher Samuda reminds that “a good and functional education is not a substitute: it is a staple of a quality and qualified mind, an inspired intellect and a proven innovator”.
Chartered accountant and JOA secretary general/chief executive officer and JPA director Ryan Foster said that “life must be an enlightened journey of knowledge and experience gained”, adding that, “education in many ways maps the pathway, charts personal development and accounts for self-actualisation”.
In an increasingly competitive job market and understandably “bang for the buck” employer consumerism, Foster reminds us that “the measure of success in matriculating successfully into the labour and business markets depends mainly on competency and entrepreneurship of the mind and education, in a real sense, enables this”.
What the world of sport needs now is love, and Samuda said equally, there needs to be “an abiding, if not a striking, affection for education that will enable an understanding and grasp of the math and science of sport”.