FOSTER...Sport is big business. It creates livelihoods, feeds citizens, affords advantages to the disadvantaged, monetises talent, spawns businesses, and has the potential to be a significant gross domestic product contributor and much more

The business of sport now forms a critical part of the language and genes of the new-look and corporate operations of the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA), the national association for Olympic and non-Olympic sport.

Under JOA President, Christopher Samuda, and Secretary General and Chief Executive Officer Ryan Foster, it has become “business unusual” for the evolving institution, which has a strong focus on the commercial re-engineering of sport administration.

“We have established a business model that is growth-oriented, traditional in values with clear value propositions, current and futuristic in its framework and processes, and rooted in brand marketing and product and services commercialisation,” said Samuda, whose administration took office less than two years ago.

The Kingston-based attorney-at-law, whose policy-making acumen and business law experience are well known, further stated that “in facilitating this business model, we have introduced a corporate structure, made constitutional changes, engaged professionals with customised skills and expertise, and redefined the JOA as part of our thrust to monetise the Olympic assets, with benefits accruing to our members”.

Organic to the new business vision and mission of the JOA is Ryan Foster, an accountant by profession and respected businessman. No stranger to the world of sport, Foster made history in becoming the JOA's first chief executive officer, the office which was merged with that of the secretary general early this year by a unanimous vote of the general assembly.

“We can't escape the inescapable,” Foster declared. “Sport is big business. It creates livelihoods, feeds citizens, affords advantages to the disadvantaged, monetises talent, spawns businesses and has the potential to be a significant gross domestic product contributor and much more. The JOA is, therefore, pursuing aggressively a programme of strategic entrepreneurship and providing industry leadership.”

The association's top brass is clear as to the vision for the JOA, going beyond a 'one plus one' administrative shop to a 'multiplier/multiplicand' revenue-based outfit which grows commensurate with market demands, without losing its base viability. In this new model assets must earn, and therefore in the proposed construction of a corporate office along Cunningham Avenue in St Andrew there will be revenue-generating activities in establishing profit centres.

“The JOA is exploring, with our financial partner at Mayberry Investments, the possibility of listing the JOA on the stock exchange after we would have established a clear stream of income and profits from our manor, gym, office spaces, museum and restaurant,” said Foster. “We want to be legacy creators and establish a trademark of excellence and innovation. We have diversified our revenues already in partnering with industry leaders such as Toyota, Puma, Cartan, Starlight and Mayberry, to name a few. These partnerships have raised a further $100 million for the JOA to support its members.”

Building and investing in solid and mutually beneficial private sector partnerships in sport is, for the JOA, “non-negotiable”, as well as subscribing to a culture of “bang for the buck” that gives value to partners, inspires loyalty, and establishes sustainability.

In all of this there is an acute sensitivity to the importance of systemic integrity and efficiency, transparency, and accountability as constituting the DNA of good governance, the 'midwife' of corporate reputation and profitability.

As the number of sports being admitted to the JOA grows and the cost of administration, constituent support, training and attendance and competing at games increases, the JOA indicates that it understands the need to be forward-thinking in revenue generation in staying ahead of the game, cost-effective in its operations, and creative in having a competitive edge.

“We looked internally and have restructured to allow for greater flexibility in responding corporately, yet personally to members' needs and aspirations, while signalling to local and international markets that we are open for business and partnerships twenty-four seven,” Foster explained.

The apex sporting body is revolutionising sport administration and the delivery of international games, and central to this modus operandi is the monetisation of its assets and goodwill in fulfilling the professional mandate it has established for itself.

“This is to transform sport administration into a modular governance and management enterprise, underpinned by business ethics and with robust commercial goals and deliverables,” noted Samuda.