VIDEO: Team Ja Bickle incurs high costs to host J'can athletes

BY SEAN A WILLIAMS Assistant Sports Editor

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

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THE non-profit organisation dedicated to providing a wide range of catering services to Jamaican athletes participating at the annual Penn Relays in the United States says its growing appetite to extend its services will cost US$143,000 (J$12.5 million) for this year’s staging.

Team Jamaica Bickle (TJB), the New York-based organisation founded by Irwin Clare in 1994, says it aims to raise an additional US$60,000 (J$5 million) to help offset the costs of accommodation to the Jamaican school teams.

“We want to raise an additional US$60,000 to subsidise accommodation... We want to bring down the cost from US$110 per room to US$50 to the schools,” said chief financial officer of the track and field-centred group, Lance Clarke.

Last year, TBJ’s budget was about US$95,000 (J$8 million).

Addressing reporters and editors at the Jamaica Observer’s Monday Exchange at the newspaper’s Beechwood Avenue headquarters yesterday, Clare said he will turn to the organisation’s longstanding partners in the USA to raise the additional sum.

“We have some fundraisers through our churches and community groups... so we have a lot of groups and we will try to reach out to them and our corporate partners,” he said.

The two hotels designated by TJB to host Jamaican athletes are Wyndham Gardens and the Ramada.

The annual relays held at Franklin Field at the University of Pennslyvania in Philadelphia attracted some 500 athletes from Jamaica last year, and more are expected this year for the April 26-28 event.

In addition to providing three “high-quality” meals per day to the Jamaican high and tertiary school athletes over the three days of competition, plus two other days prior, TJB has also embraced other Caribbean islands in its spread of support.

In 2011, TJB extended those services to a delegation of approximately 750 athletes and coaches from Jamaica and a handful of other Caribbean countries, namely Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, United States Virgin Islands (USVI), Guyana, Barbados and St Vincent & The Grenadines, who attended the meet for the first time.

Supporting the feeding, and other efforts in a big way, are major sponsors in the USA-based Vincent HoSang’s Caribbean Food Delights and Jamaica’s GraceKennedy, through its popular food brands.

Other notable sponsors are Western Union, LIME and Royal Caribbeaan Bakery.

In a broad breakdown of the expenditure, Clarke said US$11,000 will go to cover transportation; US$25,000 for sponsorship related matters; US$4,500 for a tent to house TJB activities; US$4,800 for food outside tournament days; US$2,500 for a post-championship reception; US$5,000 for a wide-range of operational services; US$3,000 for tickets for officials, sponsors and athletes.

Total cash from sponsorship was put at US$75,300 (J$6.38 million).

Among the main fundraisers, the organisation’s principals said, will be two receptions set for New York on April 12, and another in Philadelphia a day later.

Also, TJB will be banking on the public support across the US Diaspora who will be able to make donations through the website, and a fundraisering organisation called Friends of Team Jamaica Bickle, to provide additional funding.

Clarke, an accountant by trade and a founding member of TJB, said the organisation went into the planning of this year’s event with a carry-over sum of US$$11,000 from 2011, which provided it with a launching pad, though way below its substantive budget.

TJB is designated a 501 (C) (3) non-profit organisation by the US Internal Revenue Service; therefore, they are not required to pay over taxes. Still, it has to play by strict rules by filing regular and detailed reports of its activities which, Clarke said, “we are up to date with.”

TJB comprises a strong corps of multi-talented and committed volunteers, with its overarching mission to “prepare our youth for greater service on the global stage”.

While at the Penn Relays, the students receive the following services: Meals and other refreshments, physical therapy, chiropractic and medical services, mentorship to individual athletes, airport shuttle (arrival & departure), transportation to and from the stadium daily, and subsidised hotel rates.

The Penn Relays (also called the Penn Relays Carnival) is the oldest and largest track and field competition in the United States and is hosted annually since April 21, 1895.

It regularly attracts more than 15,000 participants from high schools, colleges and track clubs throughout North America and abroad, including Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean.




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