Millions needed to run athletics programme-JAAA chief

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KINGSTON, Jamaica, (CMC) – Jamaica’s athletics chief Howard Aris says it would cost $200 million (US$ 2 258 723) to properly run the country’s track & field programme. 

Aris, president of the Jamaica Amateur Athletic Association (JAAA), said the primary aim of such a budget would be “to assist the athletes in their preparation, medical expenses, meals and housing expenses.”

As a result, Aris said athletes could avoid working and spend more time perfecting their talents on the track.

“If we have the money, ideally, we would spend half on the athletes as we spent on teams going abroad,” Aris said.

“That to me would be a good mix because the whole idea [is that] you train to represent Jamaica and therefore there should be some balance between how much you assist in preparation and how much you spend in competing.”

Aris said the JAAA normally spent over $60 million (US$ 677 583) annually to send teams to overseas meets.

The country’s CARIFTA Games party comprises over 80 members each year while the Central America and Caribbean (CAC) Junior Championships accounts for a similar number every two years.

Jamaica also sends athletes to World Championships, World Juniors, the North, Central America and the Caribbean (NACAC) Under-23 and Cross Country Championship, and the Pan Am Junior Championships.

“When you check our records, we spent somewhere between $60 to 70 million every year just to spend teams abroad,” he said, while adding teams were growing in number because of Jamaica’s recent success.

Aris noted, however, that his association has received more sponsorship in the last four years than ever. 

He also defended the JAAA’s record in helping local athletes.

“The whole question is whether or not we have enough money to give to our athletes,” Aris said.

“We do try to assist every athlete that asked, but not all athletes ask and therefore if someone does not ask, then it is difficult to know that they have needs … and there are athletes who never ask because they never have needs.”