Improving relationship with athletes crucial to JAAA's mandate to transform - Michael Frater

By November 30, 2020

Three-time Olympian Michael Frater said the new administration of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA), plans to engage the country’s athletes in a move to improve relations between the governing body and its primary stakeholders.

However, the 38-year-old Frater, a vice president in the new administration led by Garth Gayle, believes that the athletes need to do a better job in championing the fight for the resources they need.

Garth Gayle convincingly defeated challenger Donald Quarrie in Saturday's election gaining 236 votes to 28 for the 1976 Olympic gold medalists. Marie Tavares, the new Honorary Secretary defeated Anthony Davis to fill the position vacated by the new president, who campaigned on transforming the JAAA. Frater insisted that engaging the athletes will be a key part of that transformation.

“What we need is a lot more input from the athletes, those who are still competing and those who have already retired. That is one of the things we are lacking. We need to have more dialogue with the athletes,” he said.

“Every organization now has an athletes commission and the voice of the athletes need to be heard. We are going to take more initiatives to get athletes onboard in the administrative room.

“For the last eight years I have been the only one in the boardroom so I think we are now going to have a change. There are going to be some posts and some athletes who are going to be co-opted to the organization so we can have better input with what is actually going on with the athletes nowadays.”

That said, Frater admits that engaging the athletes might present a challenge to the JAAA, an organization that many athletes did not believe was working in their best interests and one that carries grudges.

Retired Olympian, Novlene Williams-Mills addressed that concern in a recent interview with the Jamaica Gleaner.

“Whoever is in office needs to take their personal feelings and put them aside and stop holding it against the athletes for everything the athletes do and say because too many athletes are being punished for even having an opinion,” the 2015 World Championship gold medalist said.

Those concerns and similar others are a real concern for the many of the athletes, who for the most part keep their distance from the JAAA. Only 15 percent of the delegates who voted in Saturday’s elections were either past or current athletes. Frater admits that it is a concern.

“That’s a difficult one. I think the athletes themselves need to take the initiative to realize how important they are. Only 15 per cent of the delegates were athletes and that can’t be so,” he said.

“The athletes should make their voices heard. They need to get involved. They can talk all they want on the sidelines, especially with an election, they need to come and cast their votes as to who they think will be the better leaders and the direction they want the association to take.

“I have always asked for the athletes to be more engaged, more involved. You can’t just, after you retire, just disappear. Most of the athletes nowadays, once they retire; not that they don’t give back; but from the sidelines. That can’t be the case. You have to look out for the generation that is coming behind you.”

 Frater believes the two have to meet if the JAAA's transformation is to be successful.

"We are now in a difficult situation with Covid-19. We need to grow the organization. We need more corporate support. Once we get athletes involved and corporate sponsors can see where their dollars are going and how it's actually changing and helping athletes, I think we should go a far way," he said.







Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

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