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  One On One

PAUL SHOUCAIR - Committed to local sports

SPORTS IS big business and, more often than not, behind every major sporting event there is invariably a sponsor.

Locally, major entities have become 'title sponsors' for sporting events whereby a product or company's name is tied to teams or tournaments.

Paul Shoucair, general manager of Jamaica Beverages, is one such businessman, who has aligned his company and its products to numerous sporting events and teams, the best known being the Busta Fighters or Combined Martial Arts Team.

A sportsman, whose cellphone features Manchester United chants as a ring tone, Shoucair remains committed to local sports especially those which struggle for scarce sponsorship dollars.

Question: How involved is Jamaica Beverages with local sports sponsorship?

PS: In addition to the Busta Fighters, we sponsor Seba United and are close to signing the top men's Premier League football team. We recently signed one of the women's teams under our Cool Runnings spring water brand. We also sponsor the Masters League in Montego Bay and are associated with Richie Stephen's annual Pot of Gold tournament in Westmoreland. For the kids, our projects include the three-team high school martial arts tournament for the Busta Cup as well as sponsoring Dr. Akshai Mansingh's annual Kiddies Cricket Camp.

Q: What is your sporting background?

PS: I was sent to a boarding school in England at age eight and sports is a way of life at those institutions. I played some football and went on a three-month trial at Manchester United as a centre forward but my career was cut short by an injury.

Q: Did you play locally?

PS: I was more into coaching and did stints at Bull Bay, Berlin of St. Thomas, Maverley/Hughenden and Brazil of St. Ann.

Q: The Busta Fighters have done extremely well on the international scene. What prompted you to venture into sponsorship of martial arts?

PS: Even though our parent company, S.M. Jaleel of Trinidad and Tobago, is well known for sponsoring the regional Busta Cup cricket series few years back and now the Soca Warriors, we fancy taking on non-traditional sports. Locally, companies tend to take on the big sports - football, cricket and athletics.

Q: Would you say the Busta Fighters have since become a flagship in your company's sponsorship of sport teams?

PS: They're doing pretty well having beaten the US, England and the entire Caribbean region. They're now preparing for an Asian tour to take on the Philippines and Japan. This will be a difficult tour as no country has ever undertaken such a task.

Q: How much of Jamaica Beverages' sponsorship dollar actually goes towards the teams and tournaments as opposed to promotion?

PS: We try to ensure 60 to 70 per cent of our sponsorship goes directly towards the teams and so on. For example, we don't do any promotion for the Busta Fighters. Our financial help goes towards travelling and hotels. Our dollar is best spent helping the team to compete. Some sponsorships, we don't get into for marketing value and the Busta Fighters is one.

Q: Which of your company's sponsorship is dearest to your heart?

PS: We recently got involved with the Bike Ride Against Drug Abuse (BRADA), which is set for next month. When that came across my desk I didn't even bother to read past the first few lines. Drug abuse has no social or economic barrier especially for our children, who are subject to peer pressure.

Q: Which would you rank as the most satisfying in terms of achievement?

PS: The Busta Fighters' victory over the United States has been the most prestigious. Our footballers, cricketers, track and field athletes and netballers are expected to do well but for an island of 2.5 million people to produce a martial arts team to beat the US, which has so many people, that's certainly comparable to our achievements in athletics, Trinidad and Tobago drawing 0-0 with Sweden, Jamaica beating Japan at the World Cup or even having a bobsleigh team at all.

Q: How committed are you and Jamaica Beverages to the continued sponsorship of sports in Jamaica?

PS: We're totally committed and always looking out for deserving ventures. As for the Busta Fighters, their aim is to become world champions and we're ready to back them all the way.

Q: Which team are you rooting for in the World Cup?

PS: I like Portugal but my heart is with England. However, I don't believe they're playing to their potential. Argentina are playing well but I am far from impressed with Brazil up to this point.

- Ainsley Walters

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