... Says entity here for the long haul
PUMA, the longtime gear sponsor for the Jamaican track and field teams, has sought to clear the air regarding the brewing controversy over their long-term deal with the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA).
Recently, Puma's deal with the JAAA became topical as the election of officers for the next four years approached and candidates from at least two of the three slates, including incumbent president Dr Warren Blake, made public comments about the details of the contract.
In a letter sent to treasurer Ludlow Watts in March by Blake, and which was leaked to the media, the JAAA boss questioned the whereabouts of the contract, saying he had to call the widow of former president Howard Aris seeking to find the association's copy without luck.
Lincoln Eatmon, who heads one of the slates seeking to win the election set for next Thursday, was also heard questioning the terms of the contract at his manifesto launch earlier this week.
The Jamaica Observer understands that several other sporting goods company have expressed an interest in taking over the supplying of gear to the JAAA should the opportunity present itself.
While saying Puma has no wish to get involved in the election process, Pascal Rolling, the company's International Running sport marketing manager and the face of the German entity in Jamaica, said comments might have been made out of a lack of credible information.
In an interview with the Sunday Observer from Barcelona, Spain where he attended the IAAF Gala on Friday, Rolling said his company's involvement with the island's top sport has been beneficial to both the JAAA and other associations, including the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA), schools and colleges.
Puma also outfitted the Jamaican team to the recent Paralympic Games in London and to other events such as the PanParalymic meet last year.
As far as the national teams go, Rolling said the collaboration has not only benefitted Jamaica in terms of finances, but in other areas as well.
"We are here to support Jamaica and the Jamaican athletes to the best of our abilities. The service in terms of equipment for national teams has been dramatically improved since PUMA took over.
"On a communication level, our worldwide advertising campaign featuring Jamaican athletics has created major impact for our mutual benefit," he said.
Puma replaced Adidas and Reebok as gear sponsors for Jamaica in 2002 and according to Rolling, "The financial conditions offered by PUMA were far more lucrative for both associations back then and... have gradually been bettered to mirror the improved performance of the athletics teams."
Without going into details, Rolling pointed out that under the terms of the present contract, the company will outfit Jamaican teams to the next two IAAF World Championships in 2013 in Moscow, Russia and 2015 in Beijing, China as well as the next Olympic Games in Rio in 2016, "independently of JAAA elections results".
He said Puma's involvement and commitment go further as they want to help the development of athletics at grassroots levels and is going to be there for the long run.
"This notably includes our support for athletics programmes in schools (Calabar, Wolmer's, Jamaica College, Munro, St Jago, Ardenne, and more to come) universities (UWI, Mico) etc..."
Moving away from sports, Rolling told the Observer that Puma and Jamaica were a perfect fit "since PUMA's and Jamaica's DNA fit, with the mix of sport and lifestyle, our collaboration and communication around Jamaican is set to be a long-term one as we complement each other. You will understand that due to confidentiality clauses we cannot enter into details of agreement," he said.