Cayman’s squash and football associations are now the top beneficiaries in government’s sports budget with each allocated $150,000 for this year.
The funds distributed to the Cayman Islands National Squash Association and the Cayman Islands Football Association bring the total 2021 sports budget to $1,220,435, representing a 32% increase over the $920,435 set aside the year before to cover 27 of Cayman’s sporting entities.
The Cayman Islands Boxing Association comes in third in the budget, receiving $97,325 this year.
Previously, the squash association had been allotted $10,000 yearly for both 2020 and 2021, but after Sports Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly designated squash a ‘focus sport’ in December, the budget for the association was increased 15-fold.
“My colleagues were very much in support of it and the Opposition as well because it comes back to making investments in the right things and persons,” O’Connor-Connolly told the Cayman Compass Monday.
Now that squash is a focus sport, O’Connor-Connolly said it will be taught in government schools throughout all three islands. Acknowledging that senior leagues at the moment are dominated by expats, the sports minister maintained that all players are welcome to participate.
“We get the question so very often, ‘Who are we developing for’ and I can only speak for myself and the government that I am fortunate to be a part of, that [we] are developing Cayman for Cayman,” she said.
After the football association lost funding in 2016 following a guilty plea by former CIFA president Jeffrey Webb in a wide-ranging corruption scandal, CIFA will once again receive financial support from government. Both parties signed a purchase agreement in early December that requires government to grant a sum of $150,000 towards the organisation’s annual budget.
During the December signing event, CIFA president Alfredo Whittaker said he was relieved that the monetary support has been reinstated.
Stressing his focus had been on repairing CIFA’s reputation after the very public scandal, Whittaker said that with the new agreement, “that dark cloud is now gone”.