Despite significant challenges, the Cayman Islands Athletics Association (CIAA) is determined to make big strides in 2007. Delroy Murray, the Association’s president, admits that efforts will be hindered by a lack of equipment, money and even a track to run on. For example, Caymanian sprinters have had to train without starting blocks since Hurricane Ivan washed away the old ones in 2004. Money is always a problem given the expense of travel to off-island competitions. Additionally, CIAA must now make do without a track as government has informed them that the track at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex will be out of action for some time from mid-December. Murray remains optimistic, however. He is certain that Cayman’s track and field athletes can still train adequately and compete well overseas in 2007.
A sponsorship program is now in place and CIAA hopes to generate the money it needs to fill in the shortfall from its regular income. Murray says the association needs about $300,000 per year to operate properly but brings in just over $150,000 annually. Sponsors, he hopes, will make up the difference so that basic equipment such as starting blocks can be purchased and athletes can get to foreign meets. As for the track situation, Murray says government did not ask CIAA for input as to the timing of the resurfacing or what type of surface would be preferred. Although he would like to have been involved in the process, he is upbeat about the loss of the track for the 2007 season.
‘It will be okay, we can run on grass,’ Murray said. ‘We grew up running on grass, we can go back to grass. Our athletes can train on school fields. It’s not that bad, really. In Jamaica, for example, that is the norm. Young athletes do not train in the national stadium every day. They aspire to compete there one day. It is something special. We should be like that. To run in Cayman’s national stadium must become a quest.’
As for CIAA’s money concerns, Murray believes that sponsorship deals with local companies will give the sport the support it needs to flourish. Sponsors are asked to give a four-year commitment. Various levels of sponsorship are denoted by the following with their annual donations: Platinum ($25,000), Diamond ($15,000), Gold ($10,000), Silver ($5,000), Bronze ($2,000).
Five companies and one individual have signed up already. They are: Caribbean Utilities Company (CUC), Progressive Distributors/Gatorade, Edies Décor, Lorna’s Texaco, Cayman Medical, and Truman Bodden.
‘It is our pleasure to renew our relationships with CIAA,’ said Richard Hew, CUC’s CEO. ‘We want to be with them all the way in their ambitious plans for track and field in the Cayman Islands. We feel that this is one area that we can make a difference with kids. Programs such as this help them develop into good citizens. We congratulate Delroy and CIAA for the positive steps they are taking to improve the sport and we certainly encourage other companies to come forward and help.’
Maureen Cubban, marketing supervisor for Progressive Distributors, agrees with Hew.
‘Sports obviously benefit people physically but there is also so much more that it teaches,’ said Cubban. ‘When Gatorade [a client] heard about this, they were happy to jump on board. We are very happy to be involved with CIAA.’
Murray added that CIAA needs more coaches, both paid and volunteer. He said national coach Kenrick Williams is overstretched during evening training sessions and there are several level-one qualified coaches in Cayman who are not currently active.
Murray says that CIAA’s 2007 local and international schedule is loaded. Highlights include the return of district meets, interbusiness and inter-business meets, inter-club championships and the sending of a full team to the Island Games in Rhodes.
Any company or individual interested in sponsoring Cayman’s track and field development may phone 943-1111 or email [email protected]