The Sport in Black & White Conference and Youth Forum has been hailed as a “watershed” moment in Caribbean sports for development efforts by Dr Morella Joseph of CARICOM, and Paula Mohamed-UNDP Barbados Program Manager for Governance.
“This is a watershed moment in Caribbean sports for development,” said Dr Joseph. “We have not seen anything like it in this region before. It was an amazing week of activities. This important effort has helped point the way forward in critical areas where sports can assist and we must ensure that the issues addressed here are taken forward with action.”
The thoughts of one of the Caribbean’s leading development advocates were echoed by her UNDP counterpart Paula Mohamed. “We are pleased to have been able to have offered support to organizer Sacred Sports Foundation,” said Mohamed. “The Sport in Black & White Conference and Youth Forum bought together an impressive array of people from the sports and development world. It has made an important contribution to how we look at sports and its potential development impact.”
The UNDP was behind an eagerly awaited programme addressing the ability of sports to promote citizen security, peace and development, crime prevention, zero tolerance to armed violence, conflict prevention in schools, youth leadership, responsibility and maturity of Caribbean youth.
The UNDP’s Young Leaders – Sports, Peace and Community Programme saw the Sport in Black & White Conference participants addressed by former triple Olympic gold medallist Jackie Joyner-Kersee and former NBA star Adonal Foyle.
On her first trip to the Caribbean, Kersee wowed the gathering with an inspiring two hour presentation on her challenges and triumphs. She pledged her future assistance to helping combat the region’s burgeoning youth crime and unemployment struggles. Kersee called for a sustainable, long term approach to assist regional youth tackle major development challenges.
“We can only thank Jackie, for a truly remarkable speech, which we are sure will be a catalyst for change in this region,” said Delroy Alexander, Chairman of Sacred Sports Foundation, the organization behind the Conference & Youth Forum.
“After that speech, it’s easy to see why Jackie was so successful in her career. Her message to youth of hope, determination and hard work clearly registered home as kids from all over the island came out to meet the woman regarded by many as the best female athlete of all time.
Foyle, who also spoke during the Conference in the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia, gave a heartening rendition of his life as an NBA star and the considerable hurdles he overcame to make his hoop dream come true.
“I didn’t just want to be the best basketball player I could be, I wanted to be the best in class as well,” said Foyle. It’s a myth that you can’t have both, education and sports. Don’t listen to them because it’s not true. You can do anything you want to as long as you work hard.”
Joyner-Kersee and Foyle topped an impressive list of sports and youth development specialists and academics that converged on the Caribbean Island in June, to discuss pressing social issues and how sport can impact the region’s high rate of youth crime and violence, said organizer and Saint Lucia-based charity, the Sacred Sports Foundation.
More than a dozen stars such as NBC/ESPN soccer analyst Robbie Earle and top English footballer Jason Roberts, threw their weight behind the initiative started by the Foundation.
The Sport in Black & White Conference and Youth Forum is the centrepiece of a range of sports for development activities in Saint Lucia between June 10-23, 2013.
The major new development initiative has been some three years in the making and has been designated as the Third Sport and the Global South International Conference, bring together leaders in the fields of sport and youth development to tackle and debate a range of pressing issues for the first time in the Caribbean. The aim is to create an annual Caribbean forum for change, which fosters input directly from youth, policy makers, sports tourism stakeholders, sports men and women, educators and corporate interests.
Working closely with The Centre for the Study of Sport and Leisure in Society at the Academy of International Sport, George Mason University, key decision makers will come together with local, regional and international experts and sports personalities. The conference provided detailed strategic advice and guidance on key issues relating to sport, its impact on social development and the business opportunities that can transform performance.
Key elements of the gathering include the first ever College Showcase. Coaching certification courses will also be offered, working in collaboration with the St Lucia Football Association, The National Soccer Coaches Association of America and The Professional Footballers Association in the UK.