The world and by extension Saint Lucia will on Monday celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) 2021 under the theme ‘Choose to Challenge’. The campaign encourages women and likewise men to challenge and call out gender bias, discrimination and stereotyping in all walks of life.
Hats off to the mothers who stay awake all night caring for their sick children, the older sisters who always have the backs of their younger siblings, no matter what the circumstances, and wives who somehow manage to work both a career and a marriage perfectly.
On this special occasion, we as a nation owe an enormous amount of gratitude to the women in our lives. International Women’s Day is all about celebrating these incredible people and showing them how much we love, respect, and value them.
The VOICE Sports Desk salutes all of Saint Lucia’s women, but most specifically our women in Sports Administration.
Women have moved from being simply players in a sport to serving as decision-makers at the club level, at the national sports federation level and at the level of government.
A few of these women will be given a mention in this article. As much as we would like to highlight all of them, it is not possible to do so in this article.
Today there is the increased participation of girls and women in sports and increased opportunities as well for them for example scholarships to study.
In years gone by, women were overlooked when it came to sports leadership positions both at the club and national sports association levels. Today, things have changed.
For example Rufina Paul is not only the current president of the Saint Lucia Netball Association but also the current president of the Caribbean Netball Association (CNA). A wonderful accomplishment indeed!
Then there is Senator Fortuna Belrose, the current president of the Saint Lucia Olympic Committee (SLOC), the first woman to be voted in that position in the SLOC history.
Belrose is a former national tennis player and past President of the Saint Lucia Netball Association. She was also the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry for Youth Development and Sports. It must be noted that she is also the current Commonwealth Games, Vice President. Clarina Horscroft (deceased) was the first secretary.
In November of last year and for the first time in its history, five women were elected to serve on the executive of the Saint Lucia Athletics Association (SLAA). Prior to that time, the number of women on the executive was less than five.
Patsy St. Marthe, a banker by profession, was the first female to head the SLAA. Other women past and present to serve were: Claudis Mitchel, Patricia De Beauville; Barbara Montoute, Rochelle Jn Baptiste, Shirley Anne – Lubin, Lisa Joseph, Brendaline Descartes; Samantha Dora Henry, Makeba Alcide; Acyntha Auguste (deceased).
Julie Bonette is the first female to hold the post of 1st Vice President of the Saint Lucia Boxing Association (SLBA). Bonette is also a certified AIBA 1 Star Referee. Other women who have served on the SLBA executive include: Theresa Alcide, Esther Busby, Cleah Daniel and Lucy Goodman.
Apart from being the SLBA 1st Vice President, Julie Bonnet took up the responsibility of yet another male dominated sport. She became the first female president of the Saint Lucia Basketball Federation (SLBF), Bonette is also a qualified referee. Other females to have served are Laura John, Marlene Emmanuel, Shauna Dantes and Benise Joseph. Velica Augustin is the current secretary.
In the early 80’s when the Saint Lucia Cycling Association was founded and registered with The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the following women played their part on the executive, namely Caroline Simmons, Mandy St.Rose, Rebekah Louis and Princess Glasgow.
Like any other national sports federation, the Saint Lucia Bodybuilding/ Fitness Association has had its ups and downs, but can boast of having Judith Beckles as its first female president. At present another female Jacqueline Trim heads the organization. Other women who served were – Marilyn Dudley, Monica Dudley, Rosemary De Beauville, Melicia Thomas, and Anita Peter.
A former school principal in her earlier years, Alicia John was the first female administrator/ secretary to serve the Saint Lucia National Cricket Association (SLNCA) and Central Castries Cricket Association (CCCS). She served for a number of years before retiring. To date the National Women’s 50 overs cricket tournament is played in her honour.
Others who served as administrators at the national / club level were: Eugena Gregg, Elizabeth Williams, Roseline Preville, Cayan Daniel, Lucy Goodman, Sophia Gerson, Verena Felicien, Esther Theophane, Geanine Eugene, Pamela Eudovic, just to name a few.
The Saint Lucia Football Association (SLFA) Inc., is another male dominated executive, but has opened up to women by staging a series of FIFA sponsored coaching and administrative courses, which has led to a number of women in administrative positions in the 19 football leagues on island.
Female football coaches/ administrators currently are, Emily Remy – Marchand; Examine Philbert – (Vieux Fort South); Chrisie Harris (Victory Eagles/ VFS); Shenelle St. Louis ( Victory Eagles/ VFS); Udra Bourne ( Knights/ VFS); Lisa Albert (Upton Rebels/VFS); Shellina Barbour ( Shaballa / VFS); Ashana Samuel (Platinum/VFS); Jeffer Belasse ( VFS/deceased); Marsha Smith, Jardel Auguste, Raejean Montoute, Jennifer Gaston, Karan Fowell (Gros Islet); Karissa Bellas – (Desruisseaux); Ursher Daniel Central Castries); Macrina Fanis (Micoud); Shamalyn Albert – (Choiseul), Mary Campbell (Soufriere).
Joan Paul has been the mainstay of the sport of golf. She continues to serve on the executive of the Saint Lucia Golf Association for well over a decade. Past and present females who have made their mark as executive members are Simone Skinner, Mary Sidoine, Collen Newman and Lisa Daniel. Daniel is a past junior champion. She is 19-years-old and already an assistant coach in the Grow Well Golf Programme.
Karate – do Federation Saint Lucia is not out of the equation, as the likes of Lydia Audrey Alexander, Deborah Jn Baptiste, Lynn Alexander, Sophia Edwards – Gabriel, Twinkie Stephen, Merlin Joseph, Alana Alexander and Kara- Lee Emmanuel have all contributed immensely to towards the art form.
The Saint Lucia Amateur Swimming Association (SLASA) renamed the Saint Lucia Aquatic Federation (SLAF) has held its own with Carol Devaux as the first Interim President before the Association was fully recognized. When it became a fully constituted body, functioning executive, registered thru the Ministry of Sports at the time, Jacqueline Atkinson became the first female president. After her were Paula James and Carol Mangal.
Other’ females currently serving at the national and club levels include, Joyce Huxley, Diane Worrell, Karetta Crooks – Charles, Yasmine Tyson, Brenda Portland, Sue Dyson, Sue Monplaisir, Tessa – Charles Louis; Constance Renee, Vicky Henry, Dr. Joane Mills Felicien, Andrea Hinds- Holder, Jacqueline Odlum – Smith, Yinka Alexander, Sabby Lesporis- Hazell and Sonia Polius.
Formed in 1994, Carol Devaux became the first female president of the Saint Lucia Life Saving Association (SLLSA). The other women to serve on the first executive were Elizabeth Glace, Dagmar Peterkin and Jacqueline Atkinson.
Another sport on the home front that has been dominated by men is Tennis (at one time called Lawn Tennis) and despite men heading the executive, the list of women who served around them did so with distinction. They are, Jane Du Boulay, Pauline Erlinger- Ford, Irma Louis, Adriana Thomas, Flores Bowe, Melissa Francois, Diana Stanislas, Keturah Donai, Scyla Murray and Iesha Emile.
Regarding the sport of volleyball, Jean Morille, a former national player, continues to serve the Saint Lucia Volleyball Association with the highest honour. She has been serving for a number of years. Other women to have served are, Lisa Louis, Marcia Vite, Johanna Reynolds, Dayshia Martial and Emmy Vitalis.
Like some of the sports mentioned before, no woman has served as president / vice president of the Saint Lucia Rugby Football Union (SLRFU), but women have served in various capacities: Mina Espelta, Angela St. Denis, Sherry Samuels, Kisha ,Zhenya Carine Allain, Gemma Inglis – Alfred, Renetta Fredrick and Kurlyn George, Vonette Victor, Peggy Laurent – Sahit, Kameka President, Anastasia Charles, and Wendy Necera – Louis.
Cheryl Renwick is the current president of the Saint Lucia National Squash Association, while Greta Steadman is the Secretary of Taekwondo. Lily Bergasse is the acting Secretary of the Saint Lucia Sailing Association.