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The Caribbean: Where will sport and development be in 2025?

Copyrights: Sacred Sports Foundation

The Caribbean: Where will sport and development be in 2025?

Which topics will sport and development address in the Caribbean in the next eight years? Nova Alexander responds.

There are major social issues that governments in developing countries are unable, unwilling or just incapable of tackling.

Our strength is in unity and working more closely together.

Our Caribbean governments together with our sport family have acknowledged and witnessed the scope and scale of the challenges. The focus must be on grassroots solutions.They must identify key areas of impact, such as improvement in health, lifestyle changes and violence prevention to deliver measurable and telling social changes in their respective islands and by extension their communities.

We must all engage more directly with our citizenry to create a platform for regional change. Making that change requires focusing more clearly on core areas allowing us to extend our reach and impact communities throughout the Caribbean. We need to see better utilisation and movement of skills and building of sustainable new partnerships in the sports for development field—and critically provide a collective, reasoned approach to complex social challenges.

We require more programmes across the Caribbean—specifically, grassroots development with positive structural organisation. The Islands have thousands of community leaders, coaches, mentors and volunteers struggling to help make small but important social changes using sport, impacting hundreds of thousands of children’s lives. This must be the focus. By helping those individuals deliver better, more coordinated programmes we can lead the social changes we want to see and provide much needed focus and aid in disadvantaged communities.

As an NGO, Sacred Sports Foundation has spent a lot of time understanding where we could be most effective and impact real change. We therefore focus several pillars: health improvement through structured sports programming, youth unemployment through sports coaching/mentorship and job opportunity programmes (even at a micro level it makes a big difference in small communities), crime and violence – increased risks and lack of safe spaces in disadvantaged communities. Our child safeguarding is critical – the base for everything as it creates a better environment and inclusivity, which importantly reaches people with disabilities and our young girls, making them active and reducing teen pregnancy, thus changing lives.

Youth unemployment is a major problem in the Caribbean standing between 45% - 60%. The Island of St. Lucia is a classic case. Some 5,000 kids leave school every year. The Island creates less than 400 new jobs at that level. Another 400 fairly wealthy kids leave the island to study or work abroad. That leaves 4,200 adding to the unemployed line every year. At least half of those do reasonably well at school but lack gainful employment and opportunity. The rest live in depressed neighbourhoods where crime, sex abuse and poor education are the norm. We must focus on that bottom sector, helping communities find solutions to their own problems.

Sacred Sports Foundation believes the Sustainable Development Agenda has important consequences for sport policy development and strategies. It is important for all of us to protect the integrity of sport, as a critical prerequisite to maximise the positive contribution sport can make to sustainable development. Limiting violence and harmful practices affecting vulnerable communities and children, reducing inequality, building inclusive communities, and strengthening governance and transparency are all central to the post-2015 agenda and are issues faced within sport which require ongoing attention.

[This article has been edited by the Operating Team.]


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Monday, September 25, 2017 - 11:24