Sponsorship and sportsmanship

Saturday, March 10, 2018

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Food processing, distribution and financial services giant GraceKennedy is overjoyed to be linked to Champs, the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) GraceKennedy Boys' and Girls' Athletics Championships.

Mr Don Wehby, Group CEO of GraceKennedy, tells us that his company will remain as lead sponsor of the annual athletics festival until 2025, providing support worth US$4 million.

“It's an honour, it's a privilege for GraceKennedy to be associated with this event, and I thank you (ISSA) for continuing the relationship with us,” Mr Wehby said at a press launch of the Champs 2018, which will take place March 20-24 at National Stadium.

And in explaining his company's decision to spend so much money on supporting Champs, Mr Wehby made the point that his company is committed to Jamaica.

Said he: “…it is a lot of money for GraceKennedy, but at the end of the day, as a company that has been around for 96 years, we believe in Jamaica. GraceKennedy will continue to invest heavily in Jamaica for a better Jamaica.”

Indeed. GraceKennedy as a corporate body has demonstrated time and again its loyalty to this country and its people. But also, in the case of GraceKennedy's sponsorship of Champs, it's good business.

As a brand in Jamaican sports, the well over 100-year-old Champs is second to none in terms of its success, reputation and viewership at National Stadium and via electronic visuals locally and overseas.

It is also a widely acknowledged lead nursery for Jamaica's success at Olympic Games and other major global the athletics events, dating as far back as anyone can remember.

We don't think we exaggerate to suggest that GraceKennedy, by virtue of its position as lead sponsor for Champs, is the envy of much of the corporate world.

As we have said often in this space — for all their logistical and other problems from time to time, ISSA and its small, salaried secretariat deserve rich applause for their stewardship of Champs and other school sports.

Theirs is a template others would do well to emulate.

One last thing. Against the backdrop of a perception older folk often have of young people that the latter are too prone to insensitivity and thoughtlessness, we think it worthwhile to highlight a comment made by former schoolboy star, now national senior representative, Mr Jaheel Hyde,.

We are told that while representing kit sponsors PUMA at the press launch, Mr Hyde spoke to the issue of sportsmanship amongst competitors at Champs.

Said he:“Champs is about sportsmanship. I hate to watch the television and see the athletes showboating on each other. It's not a good look for the sport. You run through the line, you are supposed to shake each other's hands and relive the moment, because the same athlete you are showboating on can beat you the next day.”

Well said, Sir.




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