Ask most media personnel and they will unanimously agree, there is no better place to cover sports in this country than Mabouya Valley. The fact they are often seen there may lead some to think they are permanent residents. Their attraction for this valley community remains a secret, nevertheless it was really no big surprise when sports journalists including yours truly, were front and centre at Saturday’s Mabouya Valley Youth and Sports Council (MVYSC) 2013 Awards Ceremony.
The awards under the distinguished patronage of District Representative and Minister of Youth Development and Sports, Shawn Edward, took place at the Resource Centre at Grand Riviere under the theme “Success through Unity and Dedication.” Besides the minister, special guests included President of the Senate, Claudius Francis; President of the MVYSC, Kendel Emmanuel and other executive members; Chief Education Officer, Marcus Edward; President of the National Youth Council, Timothy Ferdinand; and Information Technology Manager at the Supreme Court /Court of Appeal headquarters in St Lucia, Mark Ernest, who was the guest speaker. Clivus Gules who is with the Ministry of Youth Development and Sports handled the proceedings.
After welcoming everyone, Emmanuel gave a brief review of 2013. He said: “Despite a number of challenges we had to deal with, I can proudly say that 2013 was indeed a successful year for the council and to the extent and even better year overall than 2012.”
He spoke of the inclement weather playing havoc with cricket competitions, which eventually led to joint winners for the 2013 Piton Beer/Mabouya Valley T20 Tournament.
It was not all doom and gloom as far as cricket was concerned. The president mentioned that a major achievement was the revitalization of female cricket, which saw teams participate in two tournaments. In addition he noted with pride, that the following players cemented places on the respective national teams: Rick Velinor, Vergel Theodule (Under-19 Team), Paulina Francis Daniella Francis (National Women’s Team) and Denzel James (Under-15 and Windward Under-15 and Under-17 Teams).
When it comes to football which is king in Mabouya Valley, Emmanuel expressed his disappointment. “Over the last three years our performance in national tournaments has been way below par and a reflection of our talent, therefore changes were desperately needed and they were made.”
Changes in team composition and the technical team produced results like a second place finish in the St Lucia Football Association FA Cup, third place in the Blackheart Football Tournament and advancing to the quarter-finals of the SLFA Super League.
He gave the thumbs up to the revitalization of women’s football, which saw the team place second in the GTM Female Football Competition in Desruisseaux.
Emmanuel mentioned that for the second straight year they hosted four keenly contested tournaments in football: The Mabouya Valley Promotional, won by Togetherness Youth Sports Club; EC Global Under-20, won by Aux Lyons United Sports Club; Guinness Mabouya Valley, won by Chesters Sports Club; and the Shawn Edward Competition, won by Rovers United Sports Club.
During his speech Emmanuel also touched on a club consultation initiative to enhance club structure, a tree planting initiative, community service initiative and the transformation of the Monarch Sports Club.
Minister Edward congratulated and thanked the MVYSC for staging another successful sports award and said “tonight you have showcased our district as the best sporting district in the country.”
The minister admitted to making some bold pronouncements in 2013 when it came to improvements to the La Resource Playing Field. He recalled that very early in 2013 he announced that the La Resource Playing Field would be expanded and be lit before the year 2013 was out.”
That did not happen for various reasons, including the acquisition of privately owned land for a specific purpose which in this case was the expansion of the playing field. The necessary work is completed and land adjacent to the playing field for expansion, now belongs to the Government of St Lucia.
Edward announced “possibly sometime between May and June of this year, not only will we have an expanded playing field but it will be lit and the people of the Mabouya Valley like others in some parts of St Lucia will be enjoying night sports.
Edward spoke highly of UK Sport which is group owned by the British Government, whose primary responsibility is to assist with sports development in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries. Following discussions with UK Sport which included St Lucia submitting a proposal for sport development , they were introduced to a program called Beckwith International Leadership Development (BILD), which develops the leadership talent in young people. St Lucia is now enrolled in this program and individuals have already begun receiving training.
The minister of Sports who is is enthusiastic about the program said: “It is our hope in the ministry of Youth Development and Sports, that come Commonwealth games 2017 in St Lucia would have trained over 500 young persons who will assist this country in showcasing itself not just to the athletes who will be here, but to all the individuals who are in the diasporas in commonwealth countries who will be following on television.”
In closing, Edward said: “We have a lot to be proud and excited about in the youth and sports realm. As long I continue to be the minister not only will I champion the cause of young people across the country, but I will assure the youth of Mabouya Valley are not left behind.”
After formal proceedings the following awards were presented: Junior Footballer of the Year, Vernon Abbott; Senior Footballer of the Year, Leighton Sandiford; Female Footballer of the Year, Kirtania Shorty; Junior Cricketer of the Year, Denzil James; Senior Cricketer of the Year, Mitchel Louisy; Female Cricketer of the Year, Paulina Francis, Youth in Business, Anthea Martial; Youth in Social Work, Ryan James, Youth of the Year, Vernesta Isadore; Sportsman of the Year, Denzil James; Sportswoman of the Year, Paulina Francis; Club of the Year, Monarch Sports and Cultural Club.