By Robertson S. Henry
KINGSTOWN, St Vincent — Delivering his contribution to the 2020 Budget Debate, the minister with responsibility for sports, Ces Mckie, told his fellow parliamentarian and the listening public that: “The ministry has expanded its drive to create increased opportunities for all citizens of St Vincent and the Grenadines at all levels.”
In the absence of physical education teachers at the primary school level, the department fills that void. Each year, the department of physical education and sports improves and expands on its program offerings in the schools and communities across St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Following on successful implementations in 2019, this year will see even greater visibility and impact by the department. The department will be expanding the Grade K and 1 programmes, Giving Back, Time for me to go to school and coach programmes, the after school programme, and the team development program.
The development of hand and eye coordination and motto skills will be expanded at the Grades K and 1 level in all primary schools. The department breaks out into groups and implements this program on Tuesdays.
“We are not in all ‘primary schools with the Giving Back Program’ and this year we will increase our presence in the secondary schools,” minister Mckie stated. “We utilise our sporting icons and former national and outstanding sportspersons to do motivational talks and hold more and more coaching sessions in the schools.”
The time for me to go to school and coach program currently takes the department into forty primary schools and will be expanded this year, and is conducted by the staff of the department daily.
The after school programme is conducted two days a week in 15 schools allows coaching sessions in several sporting disciplines.
In team development, St Vincent and the Grenadines is divided into four zones and staff visits all primary schools on Fridays during school hours and conducts coaching in various sporting disciplines.
Several other programs are conducted in communities. These include the Buss ah Sweat, Active Lifestyle, Monthly walks, and Saturday Morning Coaching Programs.
“Beginning 2019 and continuing this year and in collaboration with the ministry of education and the various sporting associations, the department leads on the organising of all school sports except for the athletics championship. This collaborative approach has added much value to the convening of these sporting events.
“A very important committee was established by Cabinet in 2019. I have the honour of heading up that committee which includes personnel from Stakeholder Ministries as well as other units with programs that addresses criminal activities.
The committee met several times in 2019 and held an impressive launch on Emancipation Day August 01, 2019, as the government of St Vincent and the Grenadines seek to use the ‘Sport against Crime initiative’ to challenge criminal activity and its negative impact “on our development as a people and our need to emancipate ourselves from the shackles of criminal activity.
“In 2020 the committee met one time and also held a retreat to finalise its actual program for this year. The agenda for 2020 was guided by national crime statistics and will be a full aggressive one and will be funded by the budgetary allocation plus funding available from the various stakeholder bodies sitting on the committee.
“Six additional field workers will complement the existing six coaches who went to work in 2019 with full programs in schools and communities across all of St Vincent and the Grenadines.
“The committee will identify and work with vulnerable and at-risk youth and use its contacts to have them meaningfully engaged to reduce their possibility of getting involved in criminal activity.”
Sports minister Mckie further pointed out that, “he is satisfied, that the government has and continues to recognise the importance of sport to national development. The government has built out the infrastructure of fields and hard courts to facilitate such development.
“The government has established the environment for our sportsmen and women to excel. The government has put its money behind its policies; national representatives in schools or at work, scholarships, and general support annually to many sportsmen and women, support to teams travelling; and for us hosting events and tournaments,” he said.