caricom sports academy by S4j8rHb


CARICOM Set to Launch Suriname-
Based Regional Sports Academy
March 7, 2012 By the Caribbean Journal staff

CARICOM will launch its Regional Sports Academy in Paramaribo Thursday.

The inaugural group of students to the academy, which will be based in Suriname, will be
presented to the Bureau of Heads of Government in a ceremony.

The Academy, an initiative that was the brainchild of Suriname, will provide academic and
sporting training for students across the Caribbean Community.

It was announced in July, aiming to use sport as a vehicle for Caribbean integration.

The institution will include football, track and field, swimming and volleyball facilities,
among others.

The academy has received a building as a donation from international sporting icon
Clarence Seedorf.


(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) The Regional Sports
Academy will be launched at the Twenty-Third Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference
of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) which begins in
Paramaribo, Suriname on Thursday 8 March 2012.

The inaugural group of students to the Academy, which will be in Suriname, will be
presented to the Bureau of Heads of Government in a ceremony during a reception and
cultural event on Thursday evening, the first day of the two-day meeting. The Academy, a
Surinamese initiative, will provide academic and sporting training for students across the

The two-day meeting of the CARICOM leaders will begin earlier that day with statements
from Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, the Rt Honourable Dr Denzil
Douglas, Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis, immediate past Chairman of the Conference
of Heads of Government and His Excellency President Desire Bouterse, President of
Suriname and current Chairman of the Community.
On Friday morning the Heads of Government will participate in a fitness walk in keeping
with their support for the Wellness Revolution which was spawned by the Declaration of
Port of Spain which emerged from the CARICOM Summit on Non-Communicable
Diseases, held in Trinidad and Tobago in 2007.

An exhibition marking International Women’s Day on 8 March will feature at the Meeting
highlighting the theme of the observance: “Empower Rural Women – End Hunger and
Poverty.” The Inter-Sessional Meeting itself is being conducted under the theme, “Healthy
Women, Wealthy Region.”

By Marvin A. Hokstam

PARAMARIBO–A lot of backroom planning and preparation has gone on since Suriname
first introduced the idea of a Regional Sports Academy (RSA) to Caricom Heads in
Grenada last year. Insiders will tell you that the initiative, the brainchild of famed
Suriname-born football star Clarence Seedorf- has the personal attention of President Desi
Bouterse and that it’s understandable since he, in his younger days was an avid sportsman
himself. Caricom Heads of State will be shown just how far Suriname has come with the
project that is supposed to take Caribbean sportsmanship to new levels.

The Caribbean Sports Academy fits well into the growing curve of the Caribbean sports
culture, the Preisdent said when he proposed the facility last September. “Suriname
maintains the view that we can play a vital role in contributing towards this development in
the future, since sport is an important tool to address critical health, social and
developmental issues. Sports can provide youth with a positive future regarding their
personal development. Sports means investments, but it also means foreign currency
income for families and for our countries. Through the establishment of a unique Regional
Sports Academy, the sports industry in our region will be generated and elevated to
international standards.” The project will be set up in 220.000 m2 plot of land, amid the
alluring jungle of the country.

Michael Watson, Permanent Secretary of Sport in the Ministry of Sports and Youth
Affairs explained that the main focus of the center will be on development and education of
talent. “Talent that is identified outside externally will be educated to professional levels
here,” he said, adding “by educating talent we want to develop top sportsman. When a
student comes to us, he or she will eat, sleep, and breathe sports.”

It may be obvious that Watson has made the Regional Sports Academy his baby;
Government could not have chosen a more inspired person as focal point who has to see
this initiative from concept to creation. During this interview he tirelessly pulls countless
reports and PowerPoint presentations from his laptop to drive home the point of why the
Academy is important. “Not everybody has the talent to become a top sportsman, but those
will get the kind of training and education to make it; but e we will also have other
programs for trainers, managers, marketing, youth development etc. At bachelor’s and
eventually master’s levels,” he said. “The center will have a broad curriculum.”

The first group of students who will go for a Certificate in Sports Studies starts in March;
the second group starts in September. Watson’s eyes glistened when he envisioned the
moment his students will be introduced to the Caricom Heads of States at the Inter-
Sessional Meeting, clad in their RSA garb, ready to make history. “We were actually
thinking of involving the Heads in the first training session, but we reconsidered. We
weren’t sure if we could take them through the rigorous regimen …,” he grinned.

As the RSA’s own facilities are not yet built, the first classes will be taught at the National
Army Sports facilities. “We intend to start building as soon as possible; but not having our
own facilities doesn’t have to deter us from starting. As long as we have our legal structure
in place,” Watson stressed. The legal structure was arranged shortly after this interview.

Watson said the Center is meant to benefit all member states of the Caribbean Community.
Its structure and curriculum were developed together with UWI scholar Dr. Morella
Joseph and the board of the center comprises a seven man team of Caribbean experts.
Cooperative programs are in the works with the University of the West Indies, to
eventually accommodate their students who want to study sports professionally. Aside from
sports fields and classrooms, the facility will feature dorm rooms and hospitality facilities
for visiting family of foreign students. “We’re setting up a whole operation with skilled
teachers and people in charge of proper facility maintenance and knowledgeable of
hospitality,” Watson explained.

“Suriname holds the Sports and Youth portfolio within Caricom, so we intend this to be a
Regional facility aimed at our region’s talent. Not just local. That is why we asked Caricom
first to endorse the initiative. And most important: Suriname will see it through with our
own resources and those of donors. We don’t want Caricom money; all we want from the
region is its expertise,” Watson said, thankful for the consultants that have been made
available through Caricom Secretariat.

Famed Caribbean sporters –like Seedorf, Suriname Olympic medalist swimmer Anthony
Nesty, cricketer Brian Lara and Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt will be approached to lend
their support and names to the facility’s success. “We would like to have the Brian Lara
Cricket Field, the Anthony Nesty Swimming Pool and maybe the Usain Bolt Track and so
on, to inspire our talented youth to go for their utmost,” the Permanent Secretary said.

Watson said the center follows the creed “sports for development” and goes against the
dwindling curve of how the region approaches the development of its youth. “That doesn’t
get the same attention it used to get, while it is important that our youth are taught the
skills they need to be able to communicate with others, to be prepared to fulfill their tasks
as members of society. That’s what we believe sports should also be used for; to teach our
youth the right attitudes,” he said.
In addition, he said, by teaching young people all over the region the right attitude through
sports, the Center will achieve a healthier Caribbean. “In Suriname only about 20 percent
of the community is actively involved in sports; so at least 80 percent doesn’t do it enough.
That’s alarming; and it’s like that in other Caribbean nations as well. The Sports Academy
will help change that as well, because in a few years we will have more well educated young
sport professionals, actively urging people to do more sports. That will bring a structural
development of talent and increase the chances to identify top quality at young age.
Because we don’t do that enough now, a lot of talent goes wasted, or leaves the region to
excel somewhere else. We want to change that; that’s why one of the slogans we’re toying
with is ‘Running on Gold.’ We’re going to be that mining company that explores the gold
and puts it to our communities’ advantage.

To top