The plan by the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) to transform its headquarters into a corporate hub for sports at which members can meet for conversations on sport, its development, and impact is most encouraging and deserves full support.
Mr Christopher Samuda, the JOA president, is reported as saying that the headquarters, which will retain its name, Olympic Manor, “will be foremost a family home for members, but, importantly, it will be a centre… where the collective vision will drive a unified mission for sport and sport development”.
The JOA has told us that the $120-million project, aptly themed ‘Creating History, Building for the Next Generation’, is a partnership with the Pan American Sports Organisation, which will provide $60 million. The JOA will match that contribution from internal resources.
Mr Ryan Foster, the JOA secretary general and CEO, has stated that Olympic Manor will be “a functional and earning asset with facilities which will provide a menu of services for members as their needs grow and the sporting landscape evolves”.
That, as we said, is most encouraging, and we hope that the JOA will be able to live up to its promise of providing the services necessary because not every Jamaican Olympian has had the good fortune of living a comfortable life after making great sacrifice to represent their country at the highest level.
It’s the least the country can do, because when our athletes excel we revel in their triumphs and Jamaica gains global exposure from which we can benefit with smart marketing and promotion.
That brings us to the other planned features of Olympic Manor, which have given us reason to expect great benefit for Jamaica, the JOA, and our athletes — the establishment of a health food store and restaurant, a sport apparel store of Olympic gear and souvenirs, and an Olympic museum.
Statista, a leading provider of consumer and market data, tells us that in 2019 the global sports apparel market generated around US$181 billion in revenue, an increase of more than US$7 billion on the previous year.
“Rising revenues are forecast to continue and estimated to reach around US$208 billion in 2025,” Statista added.
Those are not numbers to sneeze at, and Jamaica, we hold, should place itself in a position to capture a fair share of that market. After all, our name is synonymous with sport, especially sprinting.
The US, Great Britain, Canada, Germany, and a host of other countries run online stores from which fans can purchase team gear. Jamaica competes on an equal footing with those countries, even outperforming them in a number of events. So why shouldn’t we, like them, benefit from fans’ desire to purchase souvenirs and apparel?
Consider the contribution to our economy and people if we go down the road of manufacturing, marketing, and distributing Jamaican sports apparel ourselves. We have the talent here to do it and, given the fact that changing consumer trends have resulted in great benefit to the sports apparel and athletic wear markets in recent years, we should not shy away from investing in this venture.
The fact that Nike and Adidas — the world’s leading sportswear companies in 2018/2019 generating combined revenues of around US$64 billion — are being challenged by relative newcomers to the market, such as Under Armour and lululemon, is reason for us to act.