Saturday 13 November 2010 saw the opening of another chapter in the development of the Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committees (CANOC) as the latter hosted its Annual General Assembly on Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands.
CANOC, officially established in 2003 after some four years of planning and dialogue, has had its ups and downs but on Saturday last came away with renewed vigour and vitality to address the course for the future of sport in the Caribbean.
While politicians continue to pull hither and thither CANOC affiliates have recognised the importance of engaging in greater collaboration in pursuit of the seemingly elusive Caribbean Integration.
Among the objectives of CANOC is the importance of serving as a most critical forum for sharing ideas and working systematically to facilitate solidarity amongst the regional affiliates of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Since being established CANOC has worked on building its membership base to ensure that it is truly representative of the Olympic Movement in the Caribbean.
Initially the organisation featured only the English-Speaking members that had National Olympic Committees (NOC) affiliated to the IOC. It was then considered important to avoid excluding the countries of Anguilla, Montserrat and Turks and Caicos that do not have NOCs because of their political statuses. Consistent with its mandate CANOC then invited the NOCs of the Spanish, Dutch and French speaking countries in the Caribbean. This meant that Aruba, the Netherland Antilles, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Haiti then became members.
Having followed the development of CANOC the French Caribbean Departments of Guadeloupe and Martinique became interested and requested membership based on the fact that they are allowed to participate in the annual CARIFTA Games in Athletics, the Caribbean Football Union’s competitions as well as several other regional sporting activities. CANOC however felt it necessary for the Regional Sports Organisations of Guadeloupe and Martinique should first seek the approval of the French NOC before membership could be considered and the parameters of such membership firmly established.
After several months of discussion with the French NOC the Regional Sports Organisations of Guadeloupe and Martinique were eventually cleared and on Saturday 13 November 2010 were officially accepted as full members of CANOC.
CANOC is therefore truly representative of the Caribbean.
CANOC’s Sport Education developments
At the CANOC General Assembly in Curacao in 2009, CXC representative, Mr Didacus Jules, requested the assistance of CANOC in the formulation of strategies to improve the performance of Caribbean students in the CXC subject, Physical Education (PE) and Sport. CANOC was also asked to assist in getting qualified coaches of the respective member countries to work with PE teachers to better prepare students for the practical sport components of the PE and Sport syllabus.
Ms Kay Forde of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee, has identified a gap in the Physical Education and Sport Syllabus of the CXC that the CANOC can fill. This has to do with the sport segment of the syllabus where there are significant weaknesses especially in relation to the Olympic Movement. Ms Forde’s extensive document involves what CANOC’s Education Commission considers a major breakthrough in establishing greater balance within the CXC syllabus for the subject. The proposal involves the inclusion of more sport-related content to the existing syllabus which currently overwhelmingly favours PE content.
CANOC’s Education Commission, at its meeting in Grand Cayman and again in the General Assembly, explained that PE teachers in the Caribbean need to be better prepared to address the content of the PE and Sport syllabus as currently exists.
The CANOC has opted to offer an intervention in the PE and Sport programmes of the Caribbean. While the organisation will respond immediately to the CXC’s particular request, it will nonetheless urge Ministries of Education across the region to introduce PE and Sport at the earliest levels of their respective education programmes. This will instil in children an early appreciation for the twin disciplines and internalise a positive attitude to health and wellness. There is reason enough for our respective education systems to ensure that PE and Sport are at all levels. This may also lead to a generally healthier and more disciplined Caribbean society as well as facilitate larger numbers turning to competitive sport as a career option.
In approving the recommendations of the Education Commission the CANOC Assembly in the Cayman Islands acknowledged that the timing of the proposal is particularly opportune given that the Caribbean leaders through the regional forum, CARICOM, are currently emphasising health and wellness as critical to the future of Caribbean peoples. The CANOC proposal is therefore a major intervention in the education programming of the Caribbean.
Caribbean Coaching Certification Programme (CCCP)
The Caribbean has had a very good and mutually beneficial longstanding relationship with Canada. This relationship has not been limited to the economic and political realms but has long since extended into the sporting arena.
Prior to the establishment of CANOC the Canadians collaborated with the Commonwealth to offer sporting assistance through what was then called the Commonwealth Sport Development Programme (CSDP). In the case of St Vincent and the Grenadines the CSDP’s Colin Higgs assisted the NOC in the early work related with the development of the National Sports Policy.
Once CANOC was established the last few years of the CSDP were characterised by enhanced relations with the NOCs of the region. Since the termination of the CSDP in the Caribbean CANOC has been working more directly with Commonwealth Games Canada (CGC).
Commonwealth Games Canada has assisted the Caribbean with the development of a Caribbean Coaching Certification Programme (CCCP). Since being established CANOC has taken responsibility for the programme. The Assembly in Grand Cayman took the process further by deciding that the CCCP would now be coordinated out of the NOC’s office in Barbados with Dave Farmer, who currently heads the NOC’s Olympic Academy there, serving as the new Regional Coordinator.
Each NOC affiliated to CANOC will now establish a National CCCP Coordinator who will liaise with the Regional Coordinator in respect of the preparation of an annual calendar of CCCP activities for the Caribbean. They will engage in frequent meetings, utilising available technology, to ensure that they are all consistently ‘on the same page’ relative to the development and execution of the programme. The first step is facilitating the establishment of a database of all the individuals who have received CCCP certification as well as of the Master Course Conductors in the Caribbean.
CANOC sees the CCCP as the first-level introduction to coaching. It is general in content rather than sport specific and would be the ideal preparation for individuals interested in knowing the fundamentals of ‘how to coach’. They can later determine whether they wish to go further and engage in the sport-specific coaching certification that International Federations (IF) have established and which the NOCs usually access for national sports associations through Olympic Solidarity, the development arm of the IOC.
A group at the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) is prepared to re-edit the CCCP manuals that have been around for 15 years. The review would receive support from Commonwealth Games Canada. The latter is already working with Trinidad and Tobago relative to accreditation for the CCCP. This initiative would as far as possible be brought through CANOC to its affiliates.
The CGC is focused on International Development Through Sport – Canada’s approach to assisting other countries. At present the CGC is involved in the preparation of what is called, Long Term Social Development Through Sport (LTSDTS). This is a advanced approach that goes beyond the existing Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) model. The new approach focuses on sustainability re the training of the athlete and impacting the social context.
The CGC continues to work with Caribbean countries through the provision of interns to several NOCs and has been involved in three-four month internships, for UTT Masters students, in Canada.
The CGC is prepared to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with CANOC.
Pan American Games – Toronto 2015
It is no secret that the NOCs of the Caribbean supported the successful bid by Toronto, Canada, to host the Pan American Games of 2015. The Toronto bid was particularly well put together and was much better in all aspects that those submitted by Lima, Peru, and Bogota, Colombia, cities that finished second and third respectively in the voting that took place in Guadalajara, Mexico, in the latter part of 2009.
The Assembly approved a proposal that CANOC would now serve as the coordinating body for the relations with Organising Committee of the Pan American Games, Toronto 2015, relative to assistance to NOCs of the Caribbean in relation to athletes’ and teams’ preparation for the Games.
CANOC would sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Organising Committee in respect of the full range of areas on which collaboration can take place.
CANOC and Sport Tourism in the Caribbean
CANOC has begun working on two fronts to develop the sports tourism potential of the Caribbean. CANOC has been collaborating with both the Canada Sport Tourism Alliance (CSTA) and the CARICOM.
CANOC has attended the Canada Sport Tourism Alliance Congress 2010 held in Toronto. The collaboration has only recently begun but already the CANOC has come to recognise the several ways in which CANOC can benefit from signing an MOU with the CSTA.
The Assembly also learnt of the actions undertaken by CARICOM thus far following the Sports Tourism Conference held at UWI, Barbados, December 2009, to which CANOC was invited and made a presentation. A Caricom Sports Tourism Advisory Group has since been established with Terms of Reference. The members are: Dr. Morella Joseph (CARICOM Secretariat), Mr. John Campbell (CARICOM Secretariat), Dr. Iva Gloudon (UWI-SPEC, St. Augustine Campus), Mr. Peter Adrien (St. Kitts and Nevis), Ms Carole Beckford (Jamaica), Dr Auliana Poon (Trinidad and Tobago), Mr Clairvair Squires (Barbados) and Keith Joseph (St Vincent and the Grenadines)
The Group has already held one videoconference and CANOC is advised to see this as another positive step in advancing its work within the Caribbean.
CANOC has begun to focus more deliberately on servicing the Caribbean in the area of sport development. There is still keen interest on hosting a quadrennial Caribbean Games sooner rather than later but that depends on the extent to which the NOCs and their respective governments come to an appreciation of the critical role that CANOC can and will play in forging Caribbean unity through solidarity in the world of sport.