The ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys’ and Girls’ Championships – GraceKennedy’s Involvement

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The excitement is almost palpable – it is the first day of the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys’ and Girls’ Championships.

Spectators have travelled from the farthest ends of Jamaica (and even other countries) to get a chance to witness the greatest sports championship of the year. Diehard fans and newcomers alike fill the stadium, ready to cheer on the athletes. Champs – as the championship is more commonly known – is more than just a yearly athletic championship, it’s a way of life. Jamaicans look forward to the showcasing of our athletic talents each year. The ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys’ and Girls’ Championships is just that much of a big deal.

 

GraceKennedy became the title sponsor of these championships more than eight years ago, having acquired the role in 2007. GraceKennedy chose to fill this role, having recognized the massive impact that this championship meet has on Jamaican athletics. Gabrielle Sang, one of GraceKennedy’s Global Category Managers and a member of the Champs Committee, speaking on this said: “Champs not only develops track and field. What it brings to the table is [that] the revenues generated from Champs help the other less popular sports within the schools. While Champs is a [track and field] culmination, it has a lot of meaning for the other sports as well.”

 

The ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys’ and Girls’ Championships not only helps to assist school athletics, but the athletes themselves have first-hand experience on the benefit of these championships. Some of our greatest athletes first displayed their talents at these championships, and later went on to showcase them on an international level. As David Reid, the Business Development Manager for Grace Foods & Services and the chairman of the Champs Committee puts it, “These athletes have been consistently dominant, even after high school. They’re true performers. There are so many dream stories, so many fairy tales that we have seen over the last eight years, as it relates to [athletes] who have risen above their circumstances and expectations to excel. GraceKennedy has played a role in that.

 

The fact of the matter is that GraceKennedy’s involvement in Champs runs deeper than just self-promotion. When asked about GraceKennedy’s care for the youth and the correlation between this and their sponsorship of the Boys’ and Girls’ Championships, David had this to say: “Starting with the Grace & Staff Community Foundation here at Harbour Street, we can realize that GraceKennedy has always been about the empowerment of the youth and helping them realize their potential. Being the title sponsor at Champs has been very rewarding for us as a company. Our involvement in Champs has raised the bar and the level of expectation that Jamaicans have for Champs, simply because GraceKennedy is involved.

 

Not every star athlete at Champs goes on to compete on the world stage, but they do benefit from scholarships which help to further their education, which is something GraceKennedy truly believes in. Champs is like a developmental platform for the youth, and GraceKennedy takes pride in aiding this.

 

Everyone, from the athlete’s family to the school population, coaches and members of their community are affected in some way by the championships. Since Champs is one of the main vehicle through which the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) is able to fund the majority of the initiatives taking place in schools, it’s easy to see why its success each year is important.

 

“The professionalism and discipline with which ISSA executes Champs is in line with GraceKennedy’s core values of honesty, integrity and trust.” Gabrielle adds. “It’s all about wanting Jamaicans to be the best we can be and realizing our true potential without any negativity.”

 

Within the eight years that GraceKennedy has been the title sponsor for the championships, amazing things have happened – and GraceKennedy has every intention of continuing to redefine Jamaica’s athletic atmosphere through the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys’ and Girls’ Championships.

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