Denzil Wilks, general manager of the Sports Development Foundation (SDF), says his organisation is bracing itself for a dramatic increase in the requests for support from national sporting bodies after the relaxing of the Disaster Risk Management Act (DRMA) recently.

Wilks said the SDF is anticipating increased training activities and participation in international competition, and that requests for assistance are already pouring in. However, they will try to ensure that the approximately $650-million budget allocation spreads around as much as possible.

“Activities are stepping up,” Wilks told The Gleaner. “There are going to be more tournaments taking place, and the gyms and training grounds will be active again, and we know that is going to mean increased expenditure with everything involved.

“We cannot know what precisely will take place but we know and we are prepared within the confines of our budgetary possibilities to ensure that particular sports that show that they are active and organised, we have to be there as support.”

He noted that sports like swimming, badminton, boxing, volleyball and track and field were getting back into gear again.

“We will continue to see what we can do to help them back on their feet. However, the main challenge will be to provide support for international travel.

“The main thing that didn’t take place (last year) were the tournaments and the travel. But already we are seeing a clear indication that this is picking up and the requests are starting to come in already. The requests are very much there and we are responding as best we can.

“We are talking to our ministry (sports) and our ministry is talking to Ministry of Finance. We are also hosting the Carifta Games in Jamaica, the swimming team is going off. So those things are taking place in another month or so. Also, badminton has its international general meeting in Thailand and football is up and running and the various parish associations are looking for support to start their competitions, and so the requests are pouring in,” said Wilks.

Along with financial support, the SDF also provides infrastructural assistance for sports associations but Wilks expects very few requests in that regard, while maintaining that the bulk of their expenses will go to overseas travel expenses.

“We are here to provide support and, where necessary, we provide things like infrastructure. When they make requests, we have discussions and try to be proactive and support them in whatever way possible.

“People are hosting tournaments and going on trips and we are having to come up with the funding to assist them with travel. Our budget is $650 million and while we would like to get some more money, we understand the circumstances and we will utitlise it in the most efficient way possible. We can’t do everything but we will see what we can do,” he said.

From the Jamaica Gleaner