(GIS) – The Government of Saint Lucia is determined to take sports to a whole new level with the establishment of a Centre of Excellence for Sports, earmarked for the September 2018 school year.
The Gros Islet Secondary School will be the home for the centre.
The Centre of Excellence for Sports will start with select programmes that will be increased over the next three years. Young people, according to the Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, will be given every opportunity to use their talents to excel outside of and within traditional academic pursuits.
“If we accept, as my administration does, that sport is a critical vehicle for building the fabric of our nation, then we must equally accept that this medium must be utilized in a more strategic and structured manner,” the prime minister said. “Nowhere is this lack of cohesion more evident than in our sports infrastructure.”
The prime minister also disclosed the government’s intention to undertake a comprehensive review of the island’s 160 plus sports facilities. The results of the review will be used to formulate an action plan which, hopefully, over the next ten years, will produce a more focused approach to the development, upgrade, rationalization and management of sports facilities.
“This year, our efforts will focus on transforming the Soufriere Mini Stadium into a national facility that will accommodate FIFA sanctioned international football as well as IAAF sanctioned track and field events. We will also establish facilities as part of community hubs within wider community settings like Dennery, and smaller ones like Desruisseaux and Micoud playing field.
“As an administration however, we know that infrastructure in and of itself will not equate to maximizing the benefits of sports,” he continued. “Building capacity, increasing coaching and providing more avenues for competition will be pivotal to achieving this objective. This will become the focus of the collaboration that will be established between the Department of Sports and the National Lotteries Authority.”
The youth development agenda of the Department of Youth and Sports will be further complemented by empowerment programmes supported by the Caribbean Development Bank, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). These interventions will collectively focus on support for young people in the wider regions of Castries, Dennery, Anse La Raye, Soufriere and Vieux Fort.