Sport a vehicle towards a Healthier, Happier Anguilla by Andre Collins, Director of Sports

By anguillian December 18, 2017 10:31 Updated




To what fortuitous occurrence do we owe every pleasure and convenience of our lives – Oliver Goldsmith. As the Department of Sports launches Sports Week 2017, I reflect that it was 1 year ago that I visited Anguilla to begin pulling together the final draft of the National Sports Policy. The visit was coordinated to coincide with the Department of Sports’ (DoS) week of celebrations 2016. It was a beautiful week, from the church service to the Hall of Fame induction and the Ministry Olympics. Who would have thought, a year later, I would be in the seat of the Director of Sports, charged with rolling out the National Sports Policy and leading a talented and dedicated team – certainly not me.

Goldsmith wondered ‘what fortuitous occurrence’ was responsible for the situations we find ourselves in. I don’t wonder, I know exactly who is responsible. It is the Lord God Almighty who made the heavens and the earth and who, despite our relative insignificance in relation to the vast universe of creation, gives us the opportunity of living a life full of joy and hope. I appreciate that being in Anguilla is simply another stage of my experience that has been ordained. It is in this philosophical paradigm, eclectic in nature but rooted in idealism, pragmatism and existentialism, that you get a sense of whom I am and what I am about.

My life experiences and training have equipped me for this new undertaking. My close to 30 years of training and experiences as an educator, from kindergarten through to university, helps me to appreciate the pedagogical imperatives that must be addressed to ensure we maximize on the developmental potentials of our children and youth. My training and experiences as a sport administrator for more than 15 years, provides me with the tools and insights into management systems, policy implementation and financial and human resource management. My playing and coaching experiences in sports – like cricket, football, athletics, volleyball and golf – help me to understand what must be done to help our developing athletes maximize their potential and realize their vision; and my work and travels to Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, Central America, South America and throughout the Caribbean give me a global perspective of best practice models and global trends. All of these have contributed to my appreciation of where Anguilla is, in its development of sports as well as a society – and equally what must be done to advance us towards our collective vision.

No man is an island, and the Department of Sports understands that we need all stakeholders to work with us in achieving our objectives. To that end, I am happy to say that since assuming the leadership, and despite the impact of Hurricane Irma, we have met with 15 of the 17 national associations. The one thing that is abundantly clear is that National Sports Associations (NSAs) are operating at varying levels and the department is committed to providing the relevant support towards greater levels of efficiency and effectiveness. The department understands that the roles accepted by association officers are voluntary, but maintain that these persons made themselves available and are therefore responsible and accountable for doing their best to fulfil these roles and advance their respective sport. The department has also been working towards strengthening relationships with all Ministries and departments who play an integral part of our effectiveness. Our corporate partners also play a key role in the delivery of sport and therefore we continue to deepen and expand these relationships. There is much opportunity for collaboration in this regard, and the department remains open to explore mutually beneficial undertakings.

Anguilla has shown itself to be a wellspring of talent over the years. From the exploits of triple jumper Keith Connor; cricketers Cardigan Connor, Lanvil Harrigan, Omari Banks, Chesney Hughes; boxer ‘Easy Boy’ Lake; footballers Vernon Hodge, Girdon Connor; Shara Proctor and Zharnel Hughes in athletics; and emerging stars like Heather Richardson, Rechelle Meade, Mikea Hubert, Kevin Gumbs, Jamar Hamilton, and Montcin Hodge to name a few.
With such a foundation and wealth of talent, it is critical that we create an even greater enabling environment for more coordinated and consistent talent development. This would include the development of appropriate facilities along with the training of coaches, the development of strength and conditioning, nutrition, psychology, physiology and other sports medicine specialists.

The Department of Sports was happy to support our many nationals who represented us at the regional and international levels. We take the time to congratulate all for their contributions and efforts. We recognize the Basketball Association for successfully hosting the Leeward Islands Basketball championships, the Cricket Association for hosting the Leeward Islands Cricket Association U-19 tournament, and the Volleyball Association for securing several individual prizes at the World Qualifier in St. Lucia.

2017 has been a very productive year for the department. In addition to support for National Sports Associations, teams and athletes, we successfully completed and launched the National Sports Policy, developed and implemented the National Sport Associations Accreditation Policy, hosted Summer Camp 2017, hosted the post-Irma Sports Relief Camp, designed and conducted the first cycle of the Out of School Activity Program, and launched a strength and conditioning program for athletes earmarked to represent us at the Commonwealth Games 2018, Gold Coast, Australia.
The department eagerly looks forward to 2018 as we begin implementation of the National Sports Policy in earnest with a focus on strengthening systems and policies for improved coordination. We expand our programming to communities, youth and the elderly as we promote sports for all. In addition, significant focus will be placed on renovating damaged facilities and the construction of new sports facilities. Sports facilities were especially hard hit by the devastating storm with damages estimated in excess of $1.2M USD. The damage to these facilities has significantly handicapped the department from supporting national and community events. It is therefore critical that we get them back up and running as soon as possible.

While devastating, the damage caused by Irma has also given us the opportunity to expand our vision to establish new facilities that reflect the strength, resilience and pride of Anguillians. In this respect, as we speak, conceptual plans are being drawn for new facilities at the James Ronald Webster Park and a Multi-purpose indoor arena complete with athletic facilities. As you can imagine, these projects would require significant financial inputs. I am comforted, however, in the knowledge that potential funders are waiting to get involved and fundraising events outside of Anguilla are already being planned.

Anguilla is currently faced with many challenges – rebuilding from its most devastating hurricane to date, dealing with a protracting economy, coming to grips with the realities of an ageing population and dealing with the challenges of increased rates of non-communicable diseases. As we move forward, into an unclear but promising future, there must be a greater appreciation for the role sports can play in our development agenda. Whether in the areas of tourism, social, education, health and economic development or national identity, sports has proven its ability to be a meaningful contributor in other societies and the same is possible here in Anguilla. Sports as such needs to be given the requisite financial impetus and legislative foundation so that these ideals can be realized, and the vision for a Healthier, Happier Anguilla could be achieved.
We invite all stakeholders and every resident to play their part.
Get Active – take a few minutes every day to do moderate to vigorous physical activity.
Get Involved – support our programs and initiatives and give to the development of new facilities.

Let’s make Anguilla, Healthier and Happier

By anguillian December 18, 2017 10:31 Updated


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