PHILIPSBURG--Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (ECYS) Rodolphe Samuel has outlined the department’s current areas of focus for sports in St. Maarten.
Speaking at a Committee of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Affairs meeting last week, Samuel told Members of Parliament (MPs) that the ministry is seeking to further develop its sports facilities and encourage the utilisation of public spaces for sports and fitness.
Specifically, the football field and athletic tracks at Raoul Illidge Sports Complex are due to be replaced through the approval of capital investments. Other facilities, such as John Cooper Jose Lake Ballpark, the L.B. Scot Sports Auditorium and Melford Hazel, will be repaired through National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB) and the Trust Fund.
Samuel said the next objectives relate to ethics, values and moral development. With this objective, the ministry is engaging with sports organisations in the development of child protection policies based on the ministry’s guidelines. Training for coaches will also be developed and executed. The ministry is also in discussion with local organisations to increase media coverage of athletes and organisations locally and internationally.
Samuel said the ministry is promoting access to study financing and training opportunities for athletes and sports organisations. During this year, support has been given to athletes for training camps and college programmes. The ministry aims to encourage sports participation in households and companies and is developing guidelines to assist companies in encouraging physical activities in the workplace.
According to the minister, the Department of Sports is currently developing a sports administration manual that will assist volunteers in the management of their organisation. The department currently issues annual subsidies to little league associations for a coach in softball and baseball and the National Sports Institute for facility maintenance and sport execution. Sports scholarships are also issued for athlete training, school attendance and training camps.
Samuel shared with MPs that the government is engaging with legislative writers to develop legislation related to sports policies. The department is also in the final stages of developing child safeguarding and sports guidelines, which will be sent for approval shortly.
United Democrats (UD) MP Sarah Wescot-Williams said she saw several comments regarding athletes and artistes who are not able to participate, especially internationally, because of lack of funding and support. She asked the minister how St. Maarten can ensure that its potential in the areas of sports and performers is understood, acknowledged and assisted.
United People’s (UP) party MP Rolando Brison questioned whether the plans presented by the minister are in line with the funding that is going to be provided to the Ministry of ECYS. The MP also questioned when and how the government will combine its efforts with the private sector to realise a multi-purpose state-of-the-art sports facility for St. Maarten.
National Alliance (NA) MP George Pantophlet said St. Maarten is filled with raw talent but lacks the sports infrastructure necessary to invest in that talent.