A change is coming to the administration of sports that will augur well for clubs and athletes on the island, according to Youth and Sports Minister Kenson Casimir.
Casimir who spoke to THE VOICE about his plans and the many changes coming said he is looking at the structure of the Ministry of Sports.
“We’ve been having discussions on the structure of the Ministry because communication is one of the areas that has been larking and only recently the Ministry was able to secure the services of a consultant within the communication department who is going to be that bridge between the Media and Society as the Ministry has a number of initiatives that we are going to undertake in the not too distant future,” Casimir said.
He spoke of calling the Inter Secondary Schools Track and Field Championship ‘The Island Champs’ and using a different structure for skills training and a new direction for sports academy and swimming in Saint Lucia.
The Minister spoke of his inability to meet with national sporting federations as a result of COVID.
“One could make the argument that you could have virtual meetings, but there was a dynamic that I inherited where you have the National Lottery Authorities (NLA) which is financing the ministry’s programmes and that dynamic should never happen again. I found myself having to dig deep in getting secondary information through files/ records as to what exactly happened and having individual meetings as well. To date I have had meetings with the department heads just to chart the way forward. I need to clean up the mess. I don’t like operating in a place that appears messy, so there is a lot of cleaning up and we’re heading in that direction,” Casimir said.
On the question of a Sports Policy and how long it has been on the back burner? “We have a draft, because when I came into the Ministry as a Youth and Sports Officer there were a lot of consultations going on. We had people who had meetings to put the policy together in a way that it could be consumed by all. I think on some level it is something that we have had different phases undertaken. We had a lot of the stakeholders’ engagement so that we can get something at the end of the day and this is the direction we are going.”
“I have seen some documents in terms of what the plans are, there are a lot of things I believe we should have done by now as a country, also there are a lot of directions that I have suggested that we need to go. We are currently at an advance stage of having a Field Maintenance Policy (FMP) so you know exactly how fields are maintained and I make sure from early we were off and hoping it will be completed before January 1st 2022,” Casimir said.
On the subject of naming different venues in an ad hoc manner the Minister wants to see something different. He spoke of sports facilities being named after businesses.
“For example, let’s look at Caribbean Metals. There could be a facility named after their establishment (Caribbean Metal Indoor Sports Facility). You give them the rights and have them understand they are the ones maintaining that facility. This is the direction we want to go so the Ministry don’t have to depend on the National Lotteries Authority,” Casimir said.
Regarding administrators he said that “Saint Lucia is perhaps one of the many islands in the region where you have administrators that are everything on the executive.”
“We cannot continue to develop sports and this is what we have at a critical level as it pertains to administration. The question, how we as a government incentivize people to be administrators. As a ministry we do not have money to pay. People are struggling, people have work, and they have families. We have to start thinking of incentives because those people who coach day in and day out and still get tongue lashed on television from people who don’t lift a finger to help the sport grow. Eventually that administrator / coach will start to pull back. So, incentivizing administrators has to be a core pillar going forward for how we develop sports in the various communities,” Casimir said.
Saint Lucia, he said, has done very well in sports at the youth level and for some reason once the athletes get to ages 18-21 years they go no further.
“We only had perhaps four instances of individuals becoming world class, it says a lot about the facilities that we have, the culture and developmental programmes that we have,” Casimir said.