It was truly history in the making with the launching of The Sport in Black & White Conference and Youth Forum, scheduled to take place in Saint Lucia June 10-23. The under-taking was launched recently at the conference room of the Ministry of Youth Development and Sports located inside the Blue Coral Building.
Prominent guests in attendance included Minister of Youth Development and Sports, Shawn Edward, Acting Permanent Secretary Fortuna Belrose, St Lucia Football Association President Lyndon Cooper and executives from the Sacred Sports Foundation, Nova Alexander and brother Delroy Alexander.
Sport in Black & White will see leading international sports for development and social agencies join forces with premier local and regional bodies to deliver a ground breaking forum.
Over a two week period between June 10-23, leading sports personalities and agencies will tackle pressing social issues and the role physical activity can play in helping our youth. A major conference will run in Saint Lucia, alongside a US college scholarship showcase, certified coaching course and an international youth soccer tournament.
In welcoming everyone Belrose said the Ministry of Youth Development and sports is very pleased to be associated with this conference and referred to it as a significant occasion.
Minister of Youth Development and Sports, Shawn Edward, congratulated the Sacred Sports Foundation for “mustering the courage to embark on such an initiative.” In endorsing the conference he went on to say, “government is fully supportive because there are untold benefits that can be derived from this conference for the young people of St Lucia.”
Chairman of the Sacred Sports Foundation, Delroy Alexander said: “We believe in our youth and this is our attempt to help in the battle to develop a better, safer, more secure future for them. We wanted to be a catalyst for change and work together with our partners and agencies to provide a sustainable platform to address issues in the region relating to youth development and physical activity, which can play an important role in addressing critical social challenges.”
CARICOM, The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the International Alliance for Youth Sports (IAYS), the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), the Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP), the anti-discrimination and social inclusion body FARE Network and the Caribbean Sports Development Agency (CSDA) will all be among presenters on key elements of work undertaken in the region. Also in attendance at the launch were youth trainees, that are members of the Foundation’s sports development and coaching programme in collaboration with the National Skills Development Centre and the Australian High Commission’s Development Aid Programme.
“The time has come for proven interventions, such as sports for human development, to take root in our region,” says Timothy Ferdinand, president of the Saint Lucia National Youth Council, who will present a paper at the conference. “Young people today are faced with the hiatus of social ills and challenges, and I believe this conference stands as a major example of the required professionalism and sustainability in our approaches to positive engagement and youth development through sport in Saint Lucia.”
Delegates will also get the chance to meet and talk to a number of well-known current and former Caribbean sports personalities and address key issues such as leadership among youth.
Designated as the 3rd Sport and Global South International Conference, the event will 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.
“This conference will be quite successful in terms of its implementation and pronouncement on some of the critical issues on sport in the Caribbean,” said CARICOM Secretariat deputy programme manager, John Campbell, “The Sports Desk looks forward to being a part of this momentous occasion”.
The aim is to create an annual Caribbean forum for change reinforcing youth and sport for development networks in the region, planning ways to increase participation of young people in society through sport, and building structures whereby youth associations, government institutions and sports organisations can be more closely linked.
Organiser, Sacred Sports Foundation is working in partnership with the Ministry of Youth Development & Sport and The Centre for the Study of Sport and Leisure in Society at the Academy of International Sport, George Mason University, along with a range of local, regional and international stakeholders.
The conference will identify priorities with respect to citizen security and social inclusion, poverty alleviation and reduction of crime and violence through physical activity and sport, governance and anti-discrimination, as well as explore key approaches to youth development.
A successful call for papers will see government officials, professors and students present their work from various countries including: Denmark, Barbados, Germany, Trinidad & Tobago, Canada, USA, UK, St Kitts & Nevis and Saint Lucia.
Cindy Daub, international director of the International Alliance for Youth Sports (IAYS) will speak at the conference and also conduct an official ‘Game On!’ orientation on June 14th. Game On! youth sports programmes have already been embraced in schools by children in Saint Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, Anguilla, Dominica, St Vincent & the Grenadines, St Kitts & Nevis and Grenada.
Working in collaboration with the St Lucia Football Association, the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, the Professional Footballers Association and League Managers Association in the UK, key elements of the gathering include the first ever US college scholarship showcase, youth forum, soccer tournament and coaching certification courses.
Open exclusively to Caribbean youth from all islands, youth, teams, coaches, best players, sportsmen and women are invited to participate where US/European college coaches will gather along with top agents, officials, scouts & talent evaluators.
The conference and Youth Forum is a response to challenges faced by Caribbean youth. The region has a high incidence of youth crime, youth unemployment and teenage pregnancy among a range of social challenges.
Sacred Sports Foundation successfully utilises sport and physical activity as a social development tool and works closely with a number of disadvantaged Caribbean youth and highly vulnerable adolescents.
Sport in Black and White Conference and Youth Forum Schedule: Sport in Black & White Conference June 10-14; Youth Forum & Soccer Tournament June 12 -19; College Showcase June 14 -18; Coaching Certification Courses June 14-22.