WORK has commenced on the construction of a National Aquatic Centre at Beausejour, which upon competition, will feature two standard-sized pools to be uitilsed for training and competitive purposes.
This week, Youth Development and Sports Minister Kenson Casimir, accompanied by a technical team and other swimming officials visited the site earmarked for the project.
The minister said he was pleased with the commencement of the project and “very excited” to ensure that the contractors complete the works in the allocated time frame of about 12 to 18 months.
“Since 1987, this project has been promised to the people of Saint Lucia and …there is no better time than now to the Swimming Association, the Aquatic Federation, a 50-metre pool and a 25-metre practice pool and all the other programmes that are necessary to push swimming,” Casimir stated.
How does the Ministry of Sports view the growth and development of swimming on the island, in the overall sphere from community, schools and into national swimming?
The minister says that he advocates strongly for “programming” and so, next year, will witness the commencement of a “High Performance Cricket Programme, in Saint Lucia, where we select between 10 and 15 of the best cricketers and put them in a comprehensive programme.”
He adds that the programme will entail, “physical fitness, mental strength, emotional strength, financial planning, and the holistic development of the cricketer.”
He noted that Stewart Charles and Earl “Ball Hog” Jean are currently managing the Football programme, while similar programmes will also be set up for Track & Field.
In terms of programming, Casimir said, “swimming …will come under heavy pressure with the Aquatics Federation having to put the programmes together.”
The minister said, while some swimming programmes exist, nonetheless, “we need something comprehensive (in place) for the total development of swimming in Saint Lucia.”
Towards the overall developmental thrust of sports on the island, Casimir says, he is committed to the “decentralization of all sporting activities.”
He recalled that some years ago, allocation was made for a site to accommodate a 25-metre pool in the southern district – a task that, he says, will be pursued this time. Funding will be provided for this project.
“I feel Saint Lucia needs to come to a point where every 15-year old is part of a swimming programme, and “they have (learnt) the basics of swimming …with a comprehensive swimming programme, where we have different swimming programmes in the respective communities,” the minister explained.
Added Casimir: “We need every secondary school to be part of it. And the establishment of this programme will definitely provide time spans to secondary schools, not to just stage competitions, but (to) use the facility to develop swimming in Saint Lucia.”