On your marks… get set… GO! Fast track to 2020, Jamaica’s sports industry, particularly track and field, could be one of the largest economic drivers if there is significant investment and development.
Rewind to 1999, four sports gurus, Bruce James, Steven Francis, Paul Francis, and David Noel merged their common passion and skills to fill a gap they identified in the sports field- to offer Jamaican post high school athletes a professional training opportunity- and they did! The fantastic four gave birth to M.V.P. Track & Field Club, which is Jamaica’s first athletics club to offer this kind of service.
#DoBizJA had a one-on-one with Sports Entrepreneur and President of the world renowned M.V.P. Track & Field Club, Bruce James. He gave us an interesting insight to various investment opportunities that currently exists in the sector.
Q: What was your experience like to start your own sports business in Jamaica?
A: It was very difficult, as we were doing something without a blue print. We literally had to learn to fly, as this was the first time a company was offering World Championship and Olympic calibre athletes professional training opportunities in Jamaica. But it was worth the challenge in the end, the key is to focus and remain committed, just like an athlete.
Q: What about investment opportunities? Do you see any potential growth for businesses in the industry?
A: Jamaican track and field is at an all-time high right now. Since 2008, the average number of medals earned at the Olympic Games by the Jamaican athletics team is over 11. Before then, we used to average about less than three medals.
Sports is a very large industry globally and there are likewise many business opportunities. For example, one could pursue sports medicine services. Because there are so many Jamaican athletes now choosing to remain in the country, there is a need for more medical support. In the past, a number of athletes chose to travel or live in other countries to access advanced medical care.
There are also opportunities for preventative injury services, sports lawyers – with athletes living and training in Jamaica, there is a demand for legal representation. Sports Management is another area fit for growth, with the increasing number of athletes, there will be need for more sports managers and coaches. Another impactful area is sports facilities, an investor or entrepreneur could benefit from creating state-of-the art facilities. Then, there’s the business of transportation and travel- one could establish a company to satisfy just the sports market’s travel needs. Sports apparel or equipment is another big one. A large number of sporting equipment is imported- shot puts, hurdles, discus, high jump poles, batons, and several others. If an individual or group invested in manufacturing the equipment, this would significantly contribute to the Jamaican economy. My strong recommendation would be to ensure that these are produced at world class standards and at a lower cost than imported equipment.
Q: How do you see the sports industry fitting in the contribution mix towards achieving the 5% economic growth in 4 years goal?
A: There is a lot of home-grown talent in Jamaica and so the multiplier effect is significant when you look at the big picture. Previously, athletes shopped primarily overseas for cars and the likes; now they are living and remaining in Jamaica, buying/building homes locally. So, it makes sense to invest in and grow the local sports industry in a way that more money/spend remains in the country. One noticeable trend is Jamaican athletes are encouraging international businesses to do business in Jamaica. For example, instead of going to another country to shoot an ad, they request that the ad be shot on location in Jamaica. Investors, therefore, get the opportunity to visit and experience doing business in the country- bringing economic activities home.
There you have it! Now get to thinking… do you see yourself owning an investment opportunity in the Sports industry? Why not take it “to di world” from right here in Jamaica and help build the nation we all love?!