Government Seeks to Enact Youth and Sports Policies

By Reginald Andrew

Government is moving towards the enactment of youth and sports policies catered to help with the overall youth development and sports on the island.

Youth and Sports Minister Kenson Casimir addressed the matter at a recent media briefing. He said that the issue will be taken up in cabinet meeting next week, and will include a Sports Policy that has been nonexistent in the country.

Contrary to public rumblings about the non-involvement of youth representatives in the discourse, the minister said youth practitioners were involved in the policy’s decision-making process.

He explained that a consultant, the late Henry Charles, liaised with the National Youth Council (NYC) membership and other district youth and sports councils across the island on this pertinent issue.

“What happened is when we came into government we had some challenges with the printing of the policies, and we identified …some typographical errors and errors in language,” he told reporters this week.

Casimir says the young people were again informed of this latter development, and so, “by the time we had done our due diligence, the time frame by which the document was to be identified lapsed and so we went back to the drawing board.”

Recalling the recent establishment of the OECS Youth and Sports Council, he said that the challenges faced by young people from the sub-region are not dissimilar.

“It is incumbent upon the nation to actually identify what the dissimilarities are, what sets them apart from the other territories … and to setup a policy that is guided towards that nation’s development,” the minster noted.

He contends that it is not necessary “to reinvent the wheel” and start from scratch when implementing these policies.

For instance, said Casimir, “Grenada has a very good Sports Policy …in terms of its population, its economy, its people and athletes, and not dissimilar to Saint Lucians.”

Consequently, he added, Saint Lucia is going to assess Grenada’s Sports Policy agenda, and involve local stakeholders such as the St Lucia Olympic Committee (SLOC), sports associations, administrators, PE teachers “and then tweak what is in there to set it apart and make it into Saint Lucia’ s Sports Policy.”

Casimir said this is the gist of what the OECS Youth and Sports Ministers consented to, and “working collaboratively to ensure that we are more efficient and effective with what we are doing, instead of operating in silos.”

Moving on, will there be an impetus in facilitating sports development into the schools curricula, citing the emergence of sports professionals, administrators and other technical personnel in that transition?

“It’s a symbiotic kind of relationship, with the PE Teachers Association… closely established with the Ministry of Youth and Sports,” the minister said.

He recalled that during the “glory days” of sports on the island, the Ministry of Youth and Sports operated in tandem with the Ministry of Education.  “Since we’ve had that sort of separation it has been challenging in terms of getting these two ministries to function together,” the minister said. “But we saw that with Island Champs moving over to the weekend, we were able to come together and execute that in the interest of youth and sports development in Saint Lucia.”

Added Casimir: “We also expect that as we move forward with all other developments. Sports development is a pyramid that has the inclusion of all individuals at the bottom of the pyramid, until you get to the top, which (consists of) the Elite Athletes.”

He said schools can be identified to pick student-athletes from the bottom of the pyramid and “putting them in different programmes so they can get to the top.”

He stated that the development in cricket with the ‘Grassroots Programme’ that is in tandem with most schools, and then moving from there to the Under-15 stages “and then these individuals graduate to an Under-19 and then Senior National team.”

Casimir continued, “At the top of that pyramid we have a High-Performance Centre (HPC) where we brought together about 30 of the best cricketers in Saint Lucia in a programme of health, nutrition, physical fitness and the mental capabilities of these individuals.

He asserted: “So, it’s a very strategic way we are developing sports in Saint Lucia, and we are certainly looking to reap those benefits within the next 10 to 20 years.”

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