Youth Development and Sports were among the major issues under review during Prime Minister Philip J Pierre’s Budget Delivery on the Estimates of Revenue & Expenditure for 2023/2024.
The prime minister indicated that government is committed to pursuing a path of progress for the country’s athletes, and in particular, the young budding athletes seeking to harness and promote their skills. He also highlighted the proposed formation of a Semi-Professional Football League, on island, this year, to provide income for footballers.
PM Pierre touted the significance of the recently launched Youth Economy Agency and the skilled Saint Lucia Web Browser or 758 Skilled App. He further disclosed that this year, the Youth Resilience, Inclusive, and Empowerment (Y-RIE) will focus primarily on security and violence reduction and prevention among youth in communities.
An initiative likely to create livelihood opportunities for the country’s athletes through the sport of football is a hot topic that has been making the ‘buzz’ around town—the formation of a Semi-Professional Football League.
“Football is the most popular sport in Saint Lucia and given its popularity, a properly organized semi-professional football league will create meaningful economic activity and sustainable livelihood,” declared PM Pierre.
He said the intention is to establish a semi-professional football league this year to employ young football players. “This league will ensure that players who make the necessary sacrifices can be adequately compensated with the hope of being recruited by international football scouts,” the prime minister added.
While commending the island’s athletes for their recent outstanding performances at regional and global events, ace-sprinter Julien Alfred took the spotlight.
Highly regarded as Saint Lucia’s leading athlete, over the past five years, Julien has been blazing the trail on the US Collegiate track and field circuit, while also providing top representation for her island home …
In July 2017, Julien won Saint Lucia’s first gold medal at the Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas by winning the girl’s U-18 100m dash. In 2022, she was crowned the NCAA Division 1 champion and later that year won the silver medal in the Commonwealth Games- Women’s 100m finals.
Said PM Pierre: “This country has been witnessing the valiant feats and the breaking of records by Julien Alfred. Therefore, we believe that it is imperative that as she graduates from Texas University in June this year, we provide her with the necessary resources to continue her path of high performance.”
According to the prime minister, the ministry has budgeted finances “to ensure that she continues to receive the very best training to perfect her craft and hopefully represent our country at the 2024 Olympics.”
Notably, Pierre disclosed, in recognition of her outstanding achievements “the government has provided Ms. Alfred with a diplomatic passport to facilitate her travel”.
Moving on, with government’s commitment to provide upgraded facilities for the country’s athletes to harness their skills, focus will be placed on renovation works at the Mindoo Philip Park (MPP).
Over the years, the MPP has served athletes in good stead and the facility is still regarded as a major recreational ground for athletes in all genres of sport.
The prime minister stated that the ministry has been undertaking renovations at the MPP.
Furthermore, he informed, “These renovations will continue after the opening of the Jazz Festival on May, 5 … and several other playing facilities will be refurbished, lighted, and renovated this year.”