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Football Boost for Vieux Fort

Image: Dan Dubeaux, Motivate Canada and Wilson Jn. Baptiste, Gems of Saint Lucia.

Gems, Motivate Canada Collaboration.

Image: Dan Dubeaux, Motivate Canada and Wilson Jn. Baptiste, Gems of Saint Lucia.
Dan Dubeaux, Motivate Canada and Wilson Jn. Baptiste, Gems of Saint Lucia.

“GEMS of Saint Lucia” has successfully collaborated with Motivate Canada, who donated soccer equipment, to assist in the development of soccer in Vieux Fort South, through coach, Emmanuel Bellas.

This initiative is part of a broader objective, which is aimed at building a strong link between Motivate Canada, of Ottawa and Vieux Fort. This initiative was also supported by “Friends of Gems” who contributed generously towards the shipment of the goods from Ottawa to Vieux Fort.

Gems of Saint Lucia is the new and innovative branding of Saint Lucia’s hospitality and tourism industry, which provides authentic products in a culturally rich environment. These products are rustic in nature. They are charmingly simple or unsophisticated and are owned and controlled by the indigenous people on Saint Lucia, located in the countryside.

The Gem’s philosophy is “Marketing is everybody’s business.” As a result, the goals of the Gems are being achieved through the creation of marketing consulting teams involving Saint Lucians and friends of Saint Lucia. The Gems of Saint Lucia was conceptualized by Wilson Jn. Baptiste, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in 2007. Magdalene Cooman-Maxwell, Chief Operating Officer (COO) joined in 2014.

The Gems of Saint Lucia also believes and practices social responsibility by working with its partners to assist the youth on the island of Saint Lucia. As a result, Gems has engaged these partners in toy drives and soccer clinics, which have created opportunities for children to have an enjoyable Christmas and to effectively utilize the time and energy of the youth of Vieux Fort more efficiently, through soccer.

Motivate Canada is a Canadian charitable organization that specializes in improving the lives of young people by fostering civic engagement, social entrepreneurship, social inclusion and leadership among youth, using techniques from sport, physical education and community driven development in their programming. Through harnessing the power of positive role models, sport and physical activity, and community engagement principles, Motivate Canada is able to engage young people, build their confidence and sense of self-worth and increase their social and vocational competence.

Bellas coached Vieux Fort soccer teams, at different levels, in 2016, when they won the National Championship tournaments in both the senior level and under 21 levels. This was the town’s most successful soccer season in recent history.

Bellas holds a Master of Science in Cricket Studies from the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus in Barbados. In addition, he is also a WICB Level One Certified Coach and has been the Head Coach of the Male Under 19 Team. He is also a FUTURO III (FIFA) CERTIFIED COACHING INSTRUCTOR. Further, he is also the Head Coach for the Vieux Fort Comprehensive School Track and Field department.

In the area of officiating, Bellas is a National Football Referee, National Cricket Umpire and a fully qualified West Indies Cricket Umpire. Finally, Mr. Bellas has also been actively involved in Community, Social and Cultural activities where he has held the positions of Deputy Chairman, Local Government Authority (Vieux Fort Town Council) and other associations on the island. He is currently President of Vieux Fort South Football League.

Bellas stated: “Reputable entities like GEMS of St. Lucia and Motivate Canada are well suited to assist the Vieux Fort South League in achieving some of its objectives which revolve around its motto…Success Through Empowerment.

Problem solving benefits:

This soccer initiative will resolve a number of issues faced by the youth of Vieux Fort as they prepare to participate in soccer competitions year after year. Most of these issues are economic in nature as most of the youth involved in soccer may be unemployed and unable to purchase their equipment, which is needed to be an outstanding soccer player. In addition, there will also be less pressure on family incomes which can be re-directed away from soccer to more pressing needs.

The community of Vieux Fort stands to benefit from this initiative as this town will now be pushed to the forefront of the level of consciousness of those who have participated in this initiative.

The leaders of Gems of Saint Lucia believe that tourism is about building long term relationships in segments-of-one, and also ensuring that the benefits of tourism flows down to the grassroots on the islands. As a result, social responsibility through partnerships with international organizations and individuals is the cornerstone of this concept. The relationship established with Motivate Canada, through Dan Debau and Gems of Saint Lucia, through Wilson Jn. Baptiste and Magdalene Cooman, is expected to bring about greater awareness to the youth, in both Canada and Vieux Fort, which will usher in more initiatives, beyond soccer.

Gems of Saint Lucia, Motivate Canada and Bellas have expressed their deepest gratitude to all the Friends of Gems who came together to make this initiative work. They are of the firm view that these small initiatives have the capacity to impact and transform societies like Vieux Fort.

The Gems concept was designed to bring people together across cultural barriers to bring greater benefits to the greatest number of people. Jn. Baptiste and Bellas were former team mates of Uptown Rebels which was a leading team in Vieux Fort Soccer and also played Caribbean soccer. Jn. Baptiste was also vice-captain of Saint Lucia’s under 18 Cable and Wireless Youth Soccer team in 1978.

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