The Conference Room of the Ministry for Youth Development and Sports was a hive of heated debate recently when the Saint Lucia SAMBO Association held its election of officers for the period 2020-2022. Interestingly, there was no change to the outgoing executive as everyone was re-elected unopposed.
The two and a half hour session was supervised by the Director for Sports, Patrick Mathurin.
The seven-member executive led by President Lashelle Regis includes Vice President Carret Henry, Secretary General Christal Octave, Technical Director Thaddeus Francis, Public Relations Representative Philgrim Louisy, Treasurer Joel Husbands, and Territorial Floor Representative Nisso Etienne.
A banker by profession, the SAMBO President made her first appearance in bodybuilding by participating in the Saint Lucia Bodybuilding/Fitness Association Championships. She competed in the Bikini category and came in fifth place. “I just did it for fun and fell in love with it. I planned to compete this year but an obstacle appears, the COVID -19,” she noted.
Saint Lucia has not been spared; as of Sunday 29th March 2020 the island has recorded 9 confirmed cases.
The VOICE questioned the SAMBO President about how much the COVID -19 virus has affected the sport on the island.
“Our plans regarding to the COVID – 19 pandemic is fluid; we have an aggressive campaign planned for 2020. High on our agenda is membership expansion and exposure to schools. We have scheduled three calendar meets for 2020; the Pan American Sambo Championships; President’s Sambo Cup and World Sambo Championships. Our hopes are that a resolution to the pandemic be found before summer. Present studies and experts on the matter believe it may come to an end by summer.”
She added, “I must say that man always find a way despite adversities; we are planning to intensify our social media marketing in the interim. We will revisit our plans as the matter progresses.”
On Constitution reform, “We are still in the process of reviewing the constitution and hope to have the draft completed by the end of April to present it to our membership when the all clear is given by the health authorities”.
In terms of training/developmental “There have not been any training camps or competitions for the Caribbean region to date. Internationally there are planned training/referee seminars and competitions. Due to the COVID -19 pandemic our governing body and other federations have taken a decision to cancel/postpone events. The situation has also affected our federation with regards to the social distancing protocols, and our members are wary of attending training.”
When asked about her thoughts on the hosting of an International Open Combat Sports Championship sometime in September 2020, Regis responded: “We do not have much information on the event but from the little we are aware of, it is a good initiative to help grow Martial Arts in the Caribbean. As you are aware, Martial Arts have been on the decline during the past years. In my opinion, we are not in a position to host such an event and successfully showcase our talent. We believe more efforts should be made to build our athlete base within all the disciplines.”
“Additionally, we would like it noted that despite our fledgling status and perceived slow growth, we are making strides within the sport. On the local scene, for the past two years we have developed medalists: Nisso Etienne (gold), Thaddeus Francis (silver) and Prince Ferdinand (silver). We have also garnered a qualified coach in Thaddeus Francis. Nisso Etienne our only combat SAMBO athlete to date has qualified for medal matches at two international events. This shows that we are on the right path. We need to develop more athletes and they need to be disciplined. We are convinced that the dividend will be rewarded in the future once these issues are addressed.”
Regis made a special appeal to women: “The SAMBO Association would like to appeal to our women; the sport has many opportunities for their growth. Our society has a stigma with regards to women in sports and as the first woman president of the federation, I want to impact change.”