Dip in sponsorship affecting Boyce and Jefford Classic

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By Avenash Ramzan

A dip in sponsorship has had its impact on the ninth edition of the Boyce and Jefford Classic, slated for this weekend (August 11 and 12) at the Mackenzie Sports Club ground, Linden.

While the event has over the years attracted a large overseas field, that would not be the case this weekend, a direct result of the reduced corporate backing.

It is a worry for Directors Colin Boyce and Edison Jefford, who have merged resources, time and effort over the last nine years to build a brand that is easily recognised among the top athletics events in the country.

Boyce said, “This event is in its ninth year and strange enough we found that this year, I must let you know, as one of the most difficult years as it relates to garnering sponsorship to cover all the aspects of the budget, which includes the hosting of overseas athletes that would normally attend this meet, in terms of airfare, accommodation, feeding and transportation.”

Because of the current situation, the organisers could not fund the return of 800m defending champion from last year, Julius Mutenkanga of Uganda. According to Boyce, Mutenkanga was already prepared to make the trip to Guyana.

“I’m saying this against the background that the challenges we face this year where sponsorship is concerned are extremely great, and as a result we had to do some additional groundwork which would still cause us to have the meet this year,” Boyce explained.

“We will have the meet. The clubs are raring to go, because you know the clubs are looking forward to earning some amount of money to enhance their coffers.”

That amount could be smaller this year, as running on a lean budget could result in the slashing of cash prizes for the various categories, Boyce suggested.

“We might be forced- that’s between now and Friday (August 10)- to probably make what we call ‘minor slashes’ on those prizes. We’re hoping not to, but based on how things go between now and Friday, we may be forced to do that,” Boyce indicated.

Already the organisers have reduced the number of international events from the initial eight that were planned. “We probably may be able to run six the most, but we know for sure we will have four,” Boyce informed.

Jefford highlighted steps that have been taken to ensure the Classic is sustained for years to come.

“We’ve had cause this year to take our arguments to the Office of the President because one of the things that we’ve realised is that we are significantly lacking the kind of leadership from the sports administrators presently to give us the kind of support that is necessary to really propel us to the next level, and I’m speaking here specifically of financial support,” Jefford divulged.

Jefford posited that the Boyce and Jefford Classic was the first event that highlighted the possibilities of a partnership between corporate Guyana and athletics.

“When we started there was no platform for athletics in Guyana to attract any kind of meaningful support,” he reflected.

“We have a host of followers now and I’m thinking that for our efforts for being the pioneers of such a cause I think we should be prioritised in terms of financial support from government (and) from the National Sports Commission. For us to be privy to the fact that there are other events significantly benefitting from such subventions I would unequivocally say that I think it’s a slap in the face of this organisation,” Jefford related.

The two-day event has attracted 168 athletes. Twelve finals would be held on Saturday and another 28 on Sunday.

Ansa McAl Trading, through Lucozade and iCool Water, on Wednesday renewed its sponsorship with the Classic, a relationship which was birthed at the inception of the event.

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