Jamaica’s Sport Minister breaks silence on Jamaica Tallawahs fallout; commitment to cricket
Jamaica’s Minister of Sport Olivia Grange has pushed back at critics, as she insists that the ministry did its best to give support to the Jamaica Tallawahs.
Her response in a statement on Thursday, follows widespread condemnation about the Government’s lack of support for the Tallawahs, which inevitably resulted in owner Kris Persaud moving the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) Twenty20 franchise from Jamaica to Antigua and Barbuda.
Grange pointed out that the ministry provided special support to the Tallawahs at the level that funds would permit, as they forwarded cash, and paid for coordinated services across the Government of Jamaica to facilitate the franchise.
She added that the ministry’s Sports Division and the Sports Development Foundation provided direct cash payments of J$13 million to Jamaica Tallawahs, including the purchase of tickets for matches, between 2015 and 2019.
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The minister said the government incurred significant direct costs as it worked to facilitate the Tallawahs, as she revealed that the Sports Development Foundation undertook the cost for the importation of goods and equipment needed for use during cricket matches.
Additionally, Grange argued that her ministry also undertook the cost for various licenses and fees including for television broadcasts, as well as, negotiated with the Jamaica Urban Transit Company to provide transport service to the Tallawahs, and with the Jamaica Tourist Board to market the team.
Grange stated that she also successfully participated in discussions with private sector companies about sponsorship for the team.
“We did our best to give support to the Tallawahs. The Tallawahs bear our country’s name, but are not a national team, and are therefore not covered in the yearly allocations to the Jamaica Cricket Association. However, we have sought to provide special support to the Tallawahs at the level that our funds will permit,” the minister said in her statement.
Grange explained that it was difficult for the Government to go beyond its reach, citing that the Sports Development Foundation provided J$263 million in grants to all national sports federations in 2023.
“It is estimated that the Tallawahs require US$1 million each year—or more than J$150 million; but in order to give them more, we would have to cut funding to the more than 40 National Sports Federations, such as football, netball, track and field, who depend on government to run their programmes and have been requesting additional sums — which we are challenged to provide,” she noted.
On another note, Grange attended the handing over ceremony of 90 cricket kits from the Government of India to the Jamaica Cricket Association.
The handing over ceremony took place at the High Commission of India and represented the remainder of the 100 cricket kits promised to Jamaica by the former Indian President, His Excellency Ram Nath Kovind, during his visit to the island in 2022. The President had presented 10 kits during that initial visit.
Grange expressed gratitude to the High Commissioner, His Excellency Masakui Rungsung, and the Indian government for the gear “which will benefit young cricketers across the country.”
“This is one of the initiatives on which the High Commissioner and I have been working together as representatives of our respective governments in the interest of cricket. We are also discussing a major project, about which I believe we will soon be in a position to update our respective stakeholders about,” Grange said.
Finally, she challenged the notion that the government was anti-cricket, pointing out that the Jamaica Cricket Association receives more funding each year from the Sports Development Foundation than all other national federations except football and track and field.
This defence also came, as the government was also criticisied for missing out on a bid to host games during the ICC Twenty20 World Cup to be hosted in the Caribbean and United States later this year. Jamaica and West Indies captain Rovman Powell and all-rounder Andre Russell recently expressed concern about the development and, by extension, the lack of international cricket being played locally. (Sportsmax)