The St. Lucia Olympic Committee (SLOC) Inc. presented yet more funding to two member organizations last Friday as it reaffirms its commitment to sports development.
On Friday, the following members received disbursements for their respective programmes: St. Lucia Cycling Association ($5,000.00), and Saint Lucia Rugby Football Union ($3,000.00).
Despite the SLOC Inc. having a fixed annual allocation from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), SLOC Inc. President Alfred Emmanuel reiterated that the SLOC Inc. will continue to support members’ development programmes.
Wayne Pantor, Technical Director of the St. Lucia Rugby Football Union (SLRFU), thanked the SLOC Inc. on Friday for again supporting the development of the Union.
“It will go a long way in the development of the sport and the aspirations in reaching the Olympics,” Pantor said at the check handover held at St. Lucia Olympic House in La Clery.
By targeting the schools, Pantor says he’s been able to target some new athletes who will be preparing to form part of the main squad for the Olympic qualifiers in November, and, hopefully, a ranked Under-19 team for 2023.
Pantor said the SLRFU currently has a pool of 30 female players contending for 18 spots for the 12-a-side tournament in Jamaica in July. For the men, 30 players are vying for positions on a 13-man squad to go to Mexico in November.
For the youths, training is held on Thursdays from 4:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon, while the national training programme is held on Thursdays from 5:00 p.m. and Sundays from 9:00 a.m.
“If everything goes well with the Under-19 programme and youth development, we’ll actually split that squad in half and send some of the younger players to get exposure while we compete for qualifiers for Pan Am and CASCO Games,” Pantor explained.
With 35% of the SLRFU’s present squad being new members, the Union is now trying to recruit players back into the programme while attracting fresh players. Pantor stated that the vision of the Union is to also decentralize the sport.
Prior to COVID-19 disrupting many sporting activities, the SLRFU hosted several exhibition matches across the island to promote rugby. However, even as sporting activities have resumed, Pantor said the challenge with hosting exhibition matches has been due to limited finances. Nevertheless, he believes that with continued assistance from the SLOC Inc., the sport will continue to produce top talent.
“We’re presently making sure that the senior players are insured,” Pantor said. “The whole ideology behind the Union is a more professional approach and the concept that the welfare of the players is of utmost importance and getting them to understand that we have to work together to achieve the final goal of qualifying for these bigger tournaments.”