CASTRIES, St Lucia, CMC – Government will establish a Centre of Excellence for Sports here aimed at harnessing the talents of young athletes in order to unleash the true potential of the sports industry.
The project is expected to get underway in September and will be based at the Gros Islet Secondary School. It will begin with select programmes which will be expanded over the next three years.
Prime Minister Allen Chastanet said the initiative would allow success to measured outside of “traditional academic pursuits.”
“If we accept, as my administration does, that sport is a critical vehicle for building the fabric of our nation, then we must equally accept that this medium must be utilized in a more strategic and structured manner,” Chastanet said.
“Nowhere is this lack of cohesion more evident than in our sports infrastructure.”
In addition to the Centre of Excellence for Sports, Chastanet said his government planned to conceptualise an action plan based on a comprehensive review of the island’s sports facilities.
The plan is expected to lead to a more strategic approach to the “development, upgrade, rationalization and management” of the facilities across the island.
Chastanet also announced plans to upgrade the Soufriere Mini Stadium to accommodate various international sporting events.
“This year, our efforts will focus on transforming the Soufriere Mini Stadium into a national facility that will accommodate FIFA sanctioned international football as well as IAAF sanctioned track and field events,” he explained.
“We will also establish facilities as part of community hubs within wider community settings like Dennery, and smaller ones like Desruisseaux and Micoud playing field.
“As an administration however, we know that infrastructure in and of itself will not equate to maximizing the benefits of sports. Building capacity, increasing coaching and providing more avenues for competition will be pivotal to achieving this objective.
“This will become the focus of the collaboration that will be established between the Department of Sports and the National Lotteries Authority.”
The move by government comes on the heels of the country’s success at the recently held Commonwealth Games in Australia where high jumper Levern Spencer captured St Lucia’s first-ever gold at the showpiece.