Big help is being provided for some so-called small sports through a thrust from the national sports agency, the Institute of Sports (INSPORTS). The initiative, called the Minor Sports Development Programme, will see the state body partnering with rugby, volleyball, softball, table tennis and basketball in several areas. Leaders of several of the national sporting associations recently met with INSPORTS’ administrative director, Ian Andrews, and discussed ways of improving the growth and development of the respective sports. “All of these organisations say they have these programmes going, but they don’t have the technical capacity,” Andrews noted. “If we can help them with the technical expertise and to get proper venues, then it would go a far way in lifting their sport,” he added, further explaining the need of raising their profile to spark interest and participation. Arising out of the meeting at the agency’s head office, consensus was arrived at with regards to critical areas of need. These are: – Technical support in the form of training coaches and game officials; – Facilities (playing fields and courts); – Equipment; – Primary school age-group competitions; – Meeting facility; – Administrative development capacity. “They’ve been pressuring us for help,” continued Andrews, who outlined that the associations welcomed the Minor Sports Development Programme initiative and pledged their support and cooperation to ensure that maximum benefits to the nation’s youths were forthcoming. Part of the development, he explains, is reciprocal, as they intend to increase the knowledge base to have more persons involved in the training process. “They can train our officers so that they can be certified and help with instituting these programmes,” Andrews said. Calvin Martin, vice-president of the Jamaica Basketball Association and president of the Southern Conference Basketball Association, “thinks the initiative is long overdue” and implored other sporting bodies to work hard at improving their game. “I’m hoping that all the other sports, besides basketball, push for more support,” said Martin. “We don’t have the networking, the resources and personnel and when INSPORTS comes on board, it helps to grow and develop some more. We want to host seminars and learn more about carrying out the day-to-day activities.” He added: “Their youth programmme should benefit mainly. For us, we have mini basketball for the Under-13s, which is our focus this year, and INSPORTS has pledged to support that. We’re starting out in Kingston, St Catherine and Montego Bay. We’re hoping to get into Mandeville as well, but we’re starting out small and see if we can grow. “Mini basketball has two components, one is aimed at the community and the other for prep and primary schools.” Martin, who is also a sports officer at INSPORTS, further noted that “basketball has always gotten support from INSPORTS”, but said they are shooting for increased backing. “We’ll also be looking for additional private partners. What the programme needs cannot be supplied by one entity,” he stated.