'We need support!' ... Benzwick blasts lack of sponsorship attention
Jamaica Rugby Football Union (JRFU) chairman Jerry Benzwick has bemoaned the lack of sponsorship for the sport, saying that not enough corporate backers are interested in investing in growing local sporting brands, which needs to change.
"We know how Jamaica is, especially with a 'minor sport,' he said. "If you don't win, you don't get attention. We see it over and over where athletes do very well in their sport. It's not until dem deh pon tv nuff, dem get sponsors saying 'Yeah, we want to be a part of this.' They're looking for mileage for their money and they are sceptics. Not a lot of them are willing to take something up that's growing and has potential. Dem like the finished product and dem waa just jump een and say 'yeah, let's get our brand attached to this."
However, Benzwick said he understands how sponsors think and why they make the decisions they do about investing.
"I can't cuss them, but it's a little disheartening at times to know that you can't get help from the beginning. But right now we hope that they'll see that we have a product that is worth sponsoring and will be willing to jump on board and start knocking down my door saying 'Hey, I want to be a part of this journey."
Benzwick said that there are a number of issues facing the JRFU as it prepares to send national teams to regional and international competitions next year and explained how more sponsorship could solve this.
"It comes down to teamwork, a structure from the coaching staff and also nutrition as well as fitness," he said. "Fitness is one of the biggest problems we have in Jamaica as athletes. The track and field athletes don't have that problem because track and field is really raging fire but the team sports - fitness and conditioning, we don't have the science or the technology to do it. We have to just do it from knowledge but there are applications that we can use to follow and watch players' performances. But we don't have the funding to feed them.
"Think of it like a thoroughbred horse. You can't win a race if your horse is not properly fed, watered, rested and trained. Same thing with athletes. You have to take care of them and we just don't have the resources to do it. So until we do that, then we're gonna still be mediocre and failing and losing. The boys overseas are a part of good programmes."
The JRFU is currently making plans to send its national senior men's and women's teams to next year's Rugby World Cup Sevens tournament, as well as the Hong Kong Sevens tournament, the Central American and Caribbean Sports Organisation (CASCO) Games, and the Commonwealth Games set for the Gold Coast in Australia in April next year.