Jonel Powell, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, tables a new sports policy before the National Assembly.

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts — The National Sports Policy which will chart a way forward for sports development within the Federation, was officially laid before the Federal Parliament on October 15, by the Honourable Jonel Powell, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture.

“The National Sports Policy 2020-2025 ushers in a new era for sport in St. Kitts and Nevis, providing guidance for the oversight and direction of sports, physical education, physical activity and recreation over the next five years,” said Minister Powell. “Critically, the policy is designed for all of St. Kitts and Nevis including our children, elderly, persons with disabilities and athletes who represent schools, clubs and national teams. The policy embraces the powerful medium of sport to address issues affecting youth in schools and communities; to promote healthy and active lifestyles; to support pathways for excellence, and to generate new revenue streams and economic activity for this Federation.”

Minister Powell said that the policy also aims to reintroduce sports across all communities.

“Building on the success of local sports traditions, the policy includes a framework for engaging communities in a return to street sports. The policy commits to providing equal opportunities and invests in the leadership capacity of our youth as peacebuilders in schools and communities,” he said. “The policy also introduces a new structure and culture for a coherent approach to the development of athletes with the creation of community-based sport development hubs and a high-performance centre.”

He said that the National Sports Policy embraces international practices as it “reflects global standards and upholds alignment with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, while at the same time adopting a strong appreciation and value of the local context and realities of the Federation.

“The National Sports Policy introduces a new governance structure with the establishment of a National Sports Council that will bring together the key stakeholders in the sports sector in a collaborative effort to ensure the successful oversight and implementation of this policy,” said Minister Powell.

Equally important, the policy also caters to women.

“The National Sports Policy promotes the equitable representation of women in the leadership of sports and the empowerment of women as guardians of sport in the communities,” said Powell. “The policy invests in strengthening the capacity of women as health and fitness leaders in communities across the Federation tapping into the nurturing power to build safer, healthier and more cohesive communities.”

Powell said corporate partners and other stakeholders also have a key role to play in the further enhancement of sports tourism ventures that contribute to economic growth.

The minister commended former Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, the Honourable Shawn Richards, for his “leadership, inside and foresight in bringing the sports policy to fruition.” He also recognized the Minister of Sports in Nevis, the Honourable Eric Evelyn.

The process to develop a comprehensive National Sports Policy began in 2017. Input was made along the way by several local and regional stakeholders, including the Caribbean Community Secretariat. The local government also sought assistance from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in support of this initiative.