Sport in Black and White – A major sports conference and Youth Forum unlike any another in this country and quite possibly the region, got underway Monday at the Beausejour Indoor Facility. The conference organized by the Sacred Sports Foundation (SSF), provides a unique opportunity for anyone associated with sports, its development and impact on young people to broaden their knowledge by tackling several key issues.
Judging by the opening day attendance, SSF should (if it hasn’t already) make “Lack of Participation” especially from key stakeholders like sports associations, their number one concern. Out of 24 sports associations in this country, only a handful attended the opening.
Although disappointed one executive member of SSF, Nova Alexander, tried putting a positive spin on things. She said: “We have made it this far and it has taken three years. I think with the attendance, obviously we would like to have more people. We even lowered the cost to make it more affordable.
She went on say: “We have quite a few of the stakeholders here particularly representing boxing, football, cricket and several others and that’s a real encouragement I think. Hopefully as the week goes on we will get more. I just want to appeal to everyone to just come out and get a real feel for what’s happening here, talk to and network with some really good people when it comes to sports development and empowering our young people.”
After welcoming everyone Chairman of SSF, Delroy Alexander said: “When we began this whole process, we were very much involved with a number of sports associations. We began to interact with a wide range of youths, many of them were unemployed, depressed and searching for a way in life. Often through the programs we did, we became far more involved in their life than in fact we really wanted to. It was something that happened and along the way we realized that taking a sweat or really just enjoying the sport, was really not good enough and that something more sustainable was required. Something that could help these youths find their way in the world.”
Sport in Black and White or for that matter any colour might just be the remedy. Alexander referred to the conference as “the beginning of a tremendous journey.”
He went on to explain why the conference was entitled Sport in Black and White. He mentioned his late brother Keith Alexander and the struggles he had on his way to becoming one of the first black football managers in the United Kingdom.
“The name Sport in Black and White is very much homage to my brother. We remember him and he inspired us,” said the SSF Chairman.
Minister of Youth Development and Sports, Shawn Edward, who endorsed the conference at a recent launch said: “Ladies and gentlemen I would like to shower commendations on the Sacred Sports Foundation for having the foresight, motivation and fortitude to undertake such a creative venture, the Sport in Black and White Youth Development Conference. Your sterling contribution to the development of our youth deserves every commendation and recognition possible.”
He made mention of the number of qualified presenters here and abroad and said
“they are well positioned to assist in empowering our youth to excel.”
There were presentations Monday by former professional footballer Robbie Earle who is currently an Analyst for ESPN and NBC; Amanda Reifer who is a Sport Promotion Coordinator; and by CARICOM official Dr Morella Joseph.
Dr Joseph congratulated the SSF for organizing an event of that magnitude. She said: “The CARICOM Secretariat welcomes initiatives such as this one, which endeavour to create a sense of purpose and conviction in the lives of our sports men and women, particularly the young. Helping them to realize that sport is a manifestation of a safe and wholesome outlet for the aggressive spirit in human beings.”
While some still consider sports to be just a pastime, Dr Joseph views it as an industry. With that in mind she said: “The business of sport must therefore be pursued vigorously and re-positioned to contribute to the sustainable development of our Caribbean people.”
Dr Joseph also commented on the important link between sport and education and said: “Its importance can be gauged by the way it helps in inculcating values such as dedication, tolerance, honesty, trustworthiness, respect, compassion, integrity, humility and responsibility in children, and at the same time teaching them many relevant life lessons and life skills.
The conference is from June 10-14 at the Beausejour Indoor Facility. Former NBA basketball star Adonal Foyle who is from St Vincent & the Grenadines and President of the Caribbean Netball Association, Kathy Harper Hall were among the presenters on Tuesday.