Perhaps we all can agree that sports play a major role in the overall development of a Small Island Developing State such as ours. The current Minister for Tourism in the Office of the Prime Minister Dominic Fedee, himself a former cricketer, during the recently completed Caribbean Premier League touted the need for greater synergy between the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Sports. Since then, we have seen the M.P for Anse-La-Raye/Canaries showing up at many sporting events indicating his unwavering desire to see this collaboration achieved in an expedited fashion.
We have also seen for the first time in St. Lucian history three individuals given responsibility for one, albeit multi-faceted ministry. Of course for the purpose of this article the focus will be on sports. The current government has selected three individuals all of who have represented St. Lucia on a national level in their respective sporting backgrounds. Mrs. Fortuna Belrose, a former Tennis, netball and volleyball player. Mr. Lenard Montoute a former track and field athlete, footballer and cricketer. And Mr. Edmund Estephane who was once described as “faster than a bullet from a gun” during his early exploits as a St. Lucian athlete. Estephane of course was also lightening quick on a football pitch. All three of these individuals have been through what our current athletes now experience. All three of these individuals had to cope with challenges such as: dealing with the hierarchy of their respective associations; dealing with the lack of adequate funds to support their ambitions; and dealing with the lack of adequate facilities and equipment to move to the next level. The point is these individuals collectively have had to deal with the rough and tumble of sports in St. Lucia more than any other minister of sports in St. Lucian history. Shouldn’t they be afforded the patience required to deal with these issues collectively?
For the first time in St. Lucian history, a woman has been given the sports ministry as a portfolio. Perhaps we should wait and see how this impacts our netball, volleyball, and basketball fraternity. In fact, all the sporting disciplines may have a feminine component to it that Mrs. Belrose may be best to deal with. In addition to this, one may argue that as the former Permanent Secretary in the ministry of sports and chair of the Olympic Committee, Mrs. Belrose has as much administrative experience in sports as anyone on island right now.
Moreover, none of these three individuals has been itching to get his hand on administrative sports development at the highest level as much as Edmund Estephane. Hailing from a community that has produced some of the best athletes on island, the MP for Dennery South is motivated, willing and able to begin dealing with sports development on a community level. Perhaps St. Lucia should give him a chance to see what he can achieve in the next few years.
Last but not least, Lenard Spider Montoute. The previous government was criticized for not implementing enough sporting programs to develop our young stars. Well, this is where the author of the “Elite Athletes Program” comes in. As the founder of the Orion track and field club, the MP for Gros-Islet knows all too well about the benefits of implementing programs for athletes. The minister that was given perhaps the biggest portfolio in the John Compton administration, has said time and time again that the island suffers from a dearth of programs that are targeted toward meeting athletes at their current position and taking them to a world class level. Will we see this from the member for Gros-Islet? Only time will tell. The key word in the penultimate sentence was of course “time.”
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