Sports administration is not as easy as many think it is. It’s even harder in an environment with tight financial resources, more so during a pandemic which put a stop to all sports last year. This is The Gleaner’s list of administrators who handled those challenges best in 2020.
5 . Jamaica Golf Association (JGA) President Peter Chin
COVID-19 forced a halt to all local sports, but the JGA was able to submit a clear health protocol outline to the Government and was one of the first to resume its sporting discipline on the island. The JGA was also able to host its annual Jamaica Open in December, safely inviting international athletes to participate.
4 . Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) President Wilford Heaven
While the pandemic prevented action on the pitch in local cricket for most of 2020, it did not prevent the JCA from playing shots in the boardroom. From securing sponsorship deals to providing care packages for its current and past cricketers, to rebranding its online presence, and offering various training courses, the JCA ensured that it used the time away from a focus on competition to tend to the development of cricket in other needy areas.
3 . Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) President Christopher Samuda
Faced with a scandal regarding poor use of association funds, Samuda was transparent and dignified in his response to the claims. He confirmed that the JOA’s expenditure rose from $10 million in 2017 to $38 million in 2018, while the figures for administrative expenses went from $32 million to $60 million over the same period. He, however, explained that it was due to an increase in salaries for extra staff hired to serve its member associations. The JOA also kept busy during the pandemic, being involved in numerous partnerships with sporting entities across the world to serve its member associations.
2. ISSA President Keith Wellington
Wellington was perhaps the boldest sporting administrator of 2020 with how he went about his decision to put a halt to two of Jamaica’s most anticipated seasons.
Jamaica discovered its first official case of COVID-19 on March 10, exactly 14 days before what was to be the start of the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships (Champs). A day later, ISSA decided to pull the plug on Jamaica’s biggest track meet of the year. As the pandemic continued, cases spiked and ISSA once again had to make a tough decision. This time, it was to cancel the schoolboy football season for the year. The decision was met with criticism from the public, but Wellington and his association made it anyway. It’s that resoluteness to make tough calls in spite of public pressure why he is second on the list.
1 . Sport Minister Olivia Grange
Before the pandemic, Jamaica’s sporting fraternity was focused on preparing for the Tokyo Olympics which were to be held last summer. With that in mind, Grange, noted for her focus on athletes’ welfare, established a weekly stipend of $20,000 for athletes who have qualified, or were on the verge of qualifying, for the Games. Then the pandemic came. Grange then created a support package of $40 million for athletes adversely affected by COVID-19. It was a swift decision and one that showed compassion in a time when it was most needed.