Saint Lucia’s sport infrastructure must be improved, says Belrose

By Samuel Sukhnandan, Staff Journalist
Minister Fortuna Belrose.

Minister Fortuna Belrose.

With the recently concluded Summer Olympics Games in Rio, several countries including Saint Lucia are now gauging athletes performances and have started discussing ways in which they can improve in coming years.

While Saint Lucia did not manage to win any medal at the games, the island’s well-known high jumper Levern Spencer reached the furthest among the five Olympians that represented ‘Helen of the West.’

Spencer made history in becoming the first Saint Lucian ever to qualify into a final at the Olympic Games and finished sixth after soaring over the bar at 1.88 m and then at 1.93 m.

While acknowledging that Saint Lucia has produced a few good athletes like Spencer who competes on an international level, Minister within the Ministry of Sport Fortuna Belrose said more attention needs to be placed on improving Saint Lucia’s sport infrastructure.

“There are a number of changes that we have to make and I think we are on our way to making some of them,” Belrose, the current head of the Saint Lucia Olympic Committee and vice president of the regional body said.

The minister used track and field as an example where she believes more focus needs to be given.

“When you look particularly at track and field you have the main centre being utilized as a hospital in Vieux Fort away from the population centre. When you look at Saint Kitts and Grenada, their facilities are in the hub where the population is, so young people can go and run, train and do what they have to do.”

However, extra effort is needed here to get athletes to the the George Odlum Stadium which not only has a 400m all-weather Mondo track, but also houses two high jump areas, four triple jump and long jump runways, two pole vault runways, one discus throw circle, two shot put circles and two javelin throw runways.

The stadium is located 45 minutes away from Castries.

Belrose said, “It takes money and transportation to get the kids down to the stadium and to have that properly managed. I think the location of the stadium has always been an issue, because if we were a rich country, we would have been able to do the programmes and take people into the stadium to train.”

However, despite this, the former sport ministry permanent secretary said the base work has started.

“We have put in additional lighting, so people can have extended hours for recreation but we need to look at the possible relocation of the stadium and see if in fact we can do better.”

Another important aspect is helping to raise the profile of sport on Saint Lucia, creating enthusiasm among young people to pursue careers in every sport discipline.

Belrose said, “What we need to do is to find a way to bring it to a level so everybody can see and feel what it does for a nation. In terms of their health, well-being, popularity. Look at what music and sport has done for Jamaica.”

The minister said it will take sometime to get to the level where Jamaica and other Caribbean islands are at this point, explaining that it took many years to get sport on Saint Lucia to where it is today.

“I think the performance of persons like Levern Spencer and Darren Sammy sends the message that if you do what is right at the base, you get to realize the harvest that we are looking for,” she added.

Saint Lucia has participated in every Summer Olympic Games since 1996, but to date no athlete has ever won an Olympic medal.

(57)(10)
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19 comments

  1. I need someone to tell where has Jeanelle accomplished more than Levern at her age.....start to pull out the files......
    I need some more info on this one......did i miss out on something Jeanelle did and Levern didn't do 10 years ago....Wow!!!!!!!

    (0)(0)
    • Maybe you're just not paying attention? Actually, Jeanelle has a D1 NCAA title, and she has jumped higher than Levern did at that age, breaking L's CARIFTA HJigh Jump record. Also made the World Championships as a teenager. However, Levern does have a World Youth Championships medal. J has not won anything on the global scene. Yet.

      (0)(0)
  2. I never thought that in 2016 I would hear this coming from the mouth of a Minister or someone who has served in the public service.Is Miss Belrose insinuating that athletes come from the North and that persons in the South cannot make use of the stadium?
    I live in the extreme South of the island and I work in Castries and I commute to work. What is the big thing about the commute?
    We have heard the stories about the (semi) international airport and how it is too far from the North. We from the south do not make an issue when we have to go back and forth in the North for a passport or a birth certificate?
    Shame on you Mrs Belrose. And to think that I used to like you...

    (2)(1)
  3. Fortuna, if you knew anything about the youth of St.Lucia. You would have known that most of the best athletes are from the south. I am from Castries by the way and I remember at the inter secondary schools meet, Vieux Fort use to win.
    Why don't you start with what you have.

    Another thing, there are other athletes other than Daren and Levern. You guys keep going on about them and ignoring the rest. Johnson is doing well in cricket and Jeannelle who is ten years younger than Levern, has accomplished more than Levern did at that age. Stop being bias be fair or else St.Lucia will get nowhere in sport.

    (0)(1)
  4. That's it all over again. Castries and the North make St. Lucia. That was an attitude so clearly expressed and demonstrated by Ms. Bellrose as a civil servant. Only travelled to Vieux-Fort and the South when compelled to and couldn't wait to get back to the golden city.

    Rewind Bellrose. Sammy used to by the Ti Rocher Gap in Micoud early Sunday morning hitching a ride with other players and their cricket gear to play league cricket in Castries. Lavern is from the rural and has to get her way when transportation is her training grounds when transportation is difficult and like Sammy, not knowing how they were going to return to her homes.

    Have you suddenly woke up with all these "bright ideas?" Let's her about your record in the Ministry of Sports. Undercover politicking while the Minister held you in high esteem and confidence?

    Do all the athletes who won medals or at least qualified in their separate fields come from the city areas of their countries? Let us all agree that the situation regarding the hospital in a stadium for so long is untenable. But the suggestion that the north is a central location for major sports facilities is a retrogressive, backward look from someone with the responsibility to provide leadership to this country. No wonder her boss has stopped work on the construction of the Vieux-Fort Administrative Building, the St. Jude Hospital, community road construction projects. Is it because Vieux-Fort doesn't believe in political quacks?

    (11)(2)
  5. Who does she think she is? Does she think that the people in the South are chop liver?
    St Lucia does not comprise of Castries only. Most of us have travelled and leave away for a long time, been there done that. Give me a break.

    (8)(0)
  6. From the day that stadium was build it was NEVER opened to the public for use. Schools had to pay to use it for their sport meets. Schools could not afford the ridiculous prices so they stuck to the sub standard fields. How are we to go with such crap happening. Ms Belrose you can take it all and put it in Castries. I hope you can find a place in Castries for your horse race track too. Leave Vieux Fort with its natural beauty.

    (11)(3)
  7. The more things change the more they remain the same. She seems to be concerned only about the youths from the north.

    (7)(0)
  8. I just can't believe that I am reading this. Miss Minister why the discrimination about the location of the stadium. Must the people from the south always be neglected? Must you try to put division between the north and south of the island? Even in it's present state the George Odlum Stadium in Vieux-Fort has a lot of persons who use the facility as a means of exercise and sports.
    We need passports, birth certificates, certification of certificates (and the list goes on) what do we people of the south have to do? Take a 45 minute drive to Castries to get it. Notwithstanding that we must also take time off from work or give someone an authorization letter to get it for us. Do we complain? NO.
    smh.... disappointed.... think before you speak and make power statements. Think of the country as a whole.

    The south too does have a lot of athletes.

    (14)(1)
    • Tell them! The South has lots of athletes. Look at intersec. Which school reigns supreme? Vieux-Fort Comprehensive. Where are the students attending that school from? Surely not the North. This woman will not have fans in the South at all. She is fanning a bad flame.

      (11)(0)
  9. “It takes money and transportation to get the kids down to the stadium and to have that properly managed.” So what about the kids from the south who has to travel to the north of the island for every other activity including other sporting activities. I thought this government had a plan for the south of the island. I do believe that it was an election promise that this government will do more for south. Clearly, this minister does not hold this view. Already the kids from the north have access to the cricket stadium which also serves as one of the venues for major football competitions, all the tennis courts are also located in the north, and the proposed 50 meter swimming pool will be built in the north as well. Therefore, why can’t they travel to the south to take part in athletics? By any chance would it be that the 2.6 billion dollar project is the real reason why the stadium needs to be relocated?

    (16)(1)
  10. An Aching Southerner

    Take the stadium and move it to Castries. Why don't you? For years st. Lucia has over looked the best athletes for mediocre untrained and poor performing athletes from the north. You've held training sessions in the north always for athlete selection to represent St Lucia. Athletes from the south had to travel to Castries where they somehow always got injuries that would disqualify them from participating some of them got permanent injuries that completely prevented them from any further participation in sports even affecting the quality of life that those athletes live today. Though there is some change it is inadequate. And now you speak of the relocation of the stadium as if all athletes again come from the Castries basin. What happens when students from the south have to travel to the north, is any consideration given to these children. How the get there? How they get back home? How much it costs them? ..... Didn't think so.

    Then why are the winning trainers/coaches not selected to work with the teams. If they won consistently and consecutively, they must have something right.

    And now you have the audacity to voice a return to the same system that has failed the youth of the south. The south is part of the island too. Repair, maintain and return the stadium to the youth of the south. It is not a hospital. Why does it take so long to complete the renovation of St Jude's hospital. And can't you find a way to make the already completed areas usable.

    If that happened up north, the people would have had their hospital already.

    (14)(0)
  11. That is very good Fortuna. Jeannelle, also needs to be mentioned, she is so young and doing so well.

    (5)(13)
  12. If the minister has to keep thinking the same way the people in the North of the island have always thought, then St Lucia will remain medal less for years to come. It is the same disgusting thoughts that everything must be centered around the City. Look how long before we had a player on the senior West Indies cricket team, that individual happened to be from the Micoud district.
    It is high time that we understand that everything cannot be happening in and around Castries. We need to as much as possible, engage all communities. Let the people in the north venture out to other sectors of the island in the same maner that the out districts venture into Castries.

    (12)(0)
  13. What kind of person is that Belrose woman? who does she think she fooling? she wants to remove the national Stadium from Vieux-Fort to a more central location. Where could be more central for the Island youth than the present Loation in Vieux Fort? Mrs. Belrose we can see right through you. The chinese thugs want to take over, They have already asked for our Meat processing plant to be relocated now, you aiding and abetting the chinese mafia by trying to get our national stadium relocated so these people could control the whole area. Dont try that Fortuna Your days are numbered.

    G.j

    (15)(0)
  14. TheSaintLuciaActivitist

    By the sound of this it almost feels like there's no talent down South but that's besides the point...
    So what about those that aren't 45 minutes away, that are 10 minutes away?
    Talent is not reserved for a certain part of our island, what we really need to improve is talent-scouting-mechanism.
    Bolt started as a cricketer, someone saw potential in him, pushed him in the right direction (i.e. track & field) and the rest in history. There was a structure in place to receive that talent.
    We should also think along those lines here in Saint Lucia.

    (10)(0)
  15. WHAT IS WORG WITH DOES MINISTERS.. NO NO NO POINT OF PUTTING NICE LIGHT, NICE STADIUM IN GOOD AREA WHEN THE KIDS CAN NOT SEE THEIR FUTURE. SPOTS AND AGAIN SPOTS START YOUNG MORE AT SCHOOL. A GROVERMENT BODY (SCOUT) GOT TO BE VISTING OR BE AT THE SCHOOL OTHER PLACES TO SEE WHO HAS THE TALENT, BY DOING THIS THE KIDS WILL SEE THAT IF THEY DO WELL THEY WILL REACH SOMEWHERE. AND WHEN THEY SEE WHO HAS THE TALENT THEY CAN BRING THOSE KIDS ON THE BEAUTIFUL STADUM TO ENHANCE THEIR TALENT. SOO THE FIRST STEP IS THE GOVERMENT SHOULD EMPLOY SOMEONE (A SCOUT) TO GO AROUND THE SCHOOL OR IN AREAS SPOTS IS BEEN PLAYED TO SEE WHO HAS THE TALENT. YOU DO NOT NEED BEAUTIFUL STADIUM TO HAVE SPOTS MAN. BOLT DID NOT START TRINNING IN A BEAUTIFULL STADUM. THIS IS HOW COUNTRY WHO IS SECCESSFULL DOES IT. AND IN ENGLAND WHERE I LIVE RIGHT NOW.... ITS A SHAME THAT PEOPLE DONT EVEN KNOW WHERE ST.LUCIA IN ENGLAND BUT EVER ONE KNOWS JAMAICA ....Y BECAUSE OF SPOTS AND MUSIC. THAT IS HOW YOU MAKET TOURISM... THANK GOD FOR SUMMY WHO BRING A LITTLE LIGHT TO ST.LUCIA WHERE MOST INDIAN NOW KNOWS ST.LUCIA

    (7)(0)
  16. Come on fortuna dont be so bias... Mr Sean Edward started a really good initiative. Your comments are very bold not being political but give jack his jacket

    (6)(0)
  17. Really? Was that the best way to put it out there? Stadium forty five minutes away....smh come on now....

    (8)(0)
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