National sports policy seeks to minimize hurdles to development
BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – The Ministry of Sports’ pursuit of a national sports policy will seek to produce a healthier population of St. Kitts and Nevis, contribute to the social and economic development thrust, and facilitate and recognize excellence by athletes of all ages.
On the most recent edition of “Working for You,” Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Sports Stanley Knight spoke about the vision that he and other policy makers in the ministry with support by local, regional and international partners, hope to achieve in the plan.
In reference to having a healthier nation, Knight noted that it was important for residents to be more physically active. Experts the world over advocate for some form of physical activity to be done by individuals for about two and a half hours every week. It can be as simple as walking, dancing, or gardening, a post from the World Health Organization (WHO) website advises.
“We have to look at such things such as the rights of the child to play,” Knight stated, noting that this is covered under the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals created by the United Nations. He added that such a review will also require a closer look at the protection and safety of people involved in physical activity.
“You also have to look at the definition of development, economic development,” he said. “How do we create an incubator model [that] allows ‘Joe Public’ who … may not be participating in sports, but love sports, has a passion for it and wants to turn it into a business? The policy has to speak to all of this. What about the [athletes] who are out there representing us? Those [people] also have to be supported within the policy. We have to say through the policy that we celebrate your quest for excellence.”
The Ministry of Sports already provides financial support for athletes and encourages events that spur economic activities as part of the department’s operational framework, but the intention is to formalize it in the national sports policy under three main pillars: “Sport for All,” “Sport for Development,” and “Sport for Excellence.”
The continued development of sporting facilities around the island is one avenue that the ministry hopes to exploit to address such matters. The sporting facilities at Dieppe Bay, Tabernacle, Cayon, and Boyd’s have all been outfitted with outdoor sports lighting. Knight said this will facilitate greater use of the facilities for training and developmental activities, hosting community-oriented sports and entertainment events, and encourage community building. The permanent secretary indicated that additional facilities will be upgraded this year and the infrastructure for expanded sports such as tennis will be added.
The government of St. Kitts and Nevis is currently in discussions with the Commonwealth Secretariat and the United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to seek technical and related support in developing the policy. Both international agencies were instrumental in assisting with the development of a federal youth policy for St. Kitts and Nevis last year.