Kudos to Louie’s Heritage Extravaganza

Since 2009 Stuart Louie has ventured into yet another daring activity. A one-time distance runner himself, Louie has utilised his Hott Vibes Promotions to bolster participation in Athletics in the North Leeward area.
On the Sunday nearest 14 March, National Heroes’ Day, Hott Vibes teams up with Team Athletics St Vincent and the Grenadines to organise the Annual Heritage Extravaganza that features a day of sport in North Leeward. This year’s event took place at the Petit Bordel Playing Field on Sunday 13 March. The activity was as exciting as ever and all participants thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
North Leeward’s advantage
North Leeward has long been a highly vibrant sport area where individuals remain less enthusiastic about the sedentary lifestyle made popular by the television, videos, the cell phone and the computer and more about engaging in physical activity.
Some of the best athletes in a variety of sports have come from North Leeward given the abundance of talent evident in the several communities.
What is amazing is the fact that for all of the available talent and the large numbers who have emerged from North Leeward the sports facilities remain in a relatively deplorable state by comparison. It is perhaps the poor state of the facilities that have, over the years, steeled the young people to strive after excellence in sport.
Much has been said and written about the advantages available to people who may otherwise seem disadvantaged and the people of North Leeward have proven this to be the case for them. In many respects they have learnt to do much with little.
When Ashford Morris won the marathon race several years ago it sparked a new era in participation in Athletics. He led a strong contingent from the area that kept bringing in new participants to distance running.
As happens ever so often the growth in popularity of an activity spawns different groups and North Leeward was no different. The Horsemen emerged as a powerful group of athletes competing in the annual activities of the local governing body for the sport of Athletics.
As the members of The Horsemen grew older and their interests took them onto different paths at home and abroad there was a significant drop off in participation in Athletics amongst the children and young people of North Leeward. Then came the Dingleys.
The Dingleys spent a number of years engaged in volunteer service in North Leeward. They had great commitment to their work as well as to the young people of the North Leeward area. During their stay they encouraged the children to participate in Athletics.
For the years of their sojourn in St Vincent and the Grenadines the work of the Dingleys in the development of interest in Athletics in North Leeward saw tremendous participation in Athletics. The athletes were involved in daily training sessions and the word spread. The numbers swelled with each passing week. The athletes from the area became the major force in all running events whether at the primary school, secondary school or national level.
Macarta Gordon also assisted with the athletes for some time.
The departure of the Dingleys saw yet another decline in the participation of athletes from North Leeward at the level that existed while they were here.
Caswin Prince, a former athlete from North Leeward got involved in the mobilisation of athletes in the area. While not a coach he successfully aided Team Athletics St Vincent and the Grenadines (TASVG) in getting more athletes to consistently participate, first in the annual road race series and later in the track and field activities of the organisation.
For his outstanding efforts Prince was the recipient of TASVG’s Volunteer of the Year award at the organisation’s end of year Ceremony last December.
TASVG’s Technical Director, Gideon Labban, has spent much time in the past several months working with athletes, PE Teachers and coaches in the North Leeward area. Thus, while Prince facilitated mobilisation, Labban, Woodrow Williams and Byron Quamina, facilitated the training to ensure that the participants from the area were competitive.
There is reason to believe that at the upcoming Inter Secondary and Inter Primary Schools Championships as well as in the TASVG Championships we are likely to witness some very competitive athletes coming from North Leeward.
Heritage Extravaganza
Stuart Louie’s commitment to sport has allowed him to approach TASVG in a joint venture to aid in the promotion of Athletics while paying homage to the heritage of St Vincent and the Grenadines around National Heroes Day.
A young entrepreneur, Louie is given to taking risks. He believed however that given his background in Athletics the decision to host an annual Heritage Extravaganza featuring that sport was always going to be a success.
For one thing Athletics is a very exciting sport. Additionally, the children in North Leeward are keen to participate in Athletics once they are being encouraged and adults are willing to take the time to engage them in consistent training.
Children involved in Athletics competition are always a major attraction to parents as well as members of the community.
The competition is often on an afternoon and this year the TASVG was better prepared than hitherto for the event.
In anticipation of the event Labban and Louie reminded the children about the excitement that would take place as a result of their participation in keen, friendly, fun-filled Athletics rivalry.
On Saturday 5 March 2011, TASVG organised a Training of Trainers Workshop in Kids In Athletics (KIA) at the Petit Bordel Playing Field. International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Instructors Rawlson Morgan and Rosmund Griffith, conducted the training programme that introduced PE teachers and coaches from the area to the IAAF’s KIA – a fun-filled way of introducing children to Athletics.
This year’s Heritage Extravaganza began with a KIA competition featuring five teams each comprising seven athletes competing over five stations. The children were particularly enthusiastic as the community gradually came to an understanding of and appreciation for the innovative competition.
Rosmund Griffith coordinated Sunday’s KIA competition.
The Future
On Sunday 13 March 2011, in the midst of the excitement of the Annual Heritage Extravaganza, President of TASVG, Keith Joseph, presented a new Kit of KIA equipment to North Leeward for use in the area.
The Kit would be located at the Chateaubelair Methodist Schools and would be used to introduce children from all the schools in North leeward to hone their skills in respect of the fundamentals of the sport.
TASVG is committed to making Athletics the leading sport for individuals in the schools of this country and in the wider community.
The next few weeks will witness the systematic spreading of the KIA Programme in North Leeward bringing interested PE Teachers and coaches into the excitement that it generates.
Children in North Leeward would soon be able to rival the national champions, Biabou Methodist, when this year’s National KIA Championships come off at the Arnos Vale Sports Complex on Saturday 2 April.
Once the fundamentals have been grasped using the KIA approach there is greater chance of the children enjoying Athletics. This may well lead to sustained interest, improved performances and the ushering in of a new era in Vincentian athletics.
There is also little doubt that Stuart Louie’s Annual Heritage Extravaganza could experience significant growth in interest, participation and popularity.
Village sports
TASVG has had the introduction of Village Sports on the cards for some time. Stuart Louie’s annual event can indeed be considered one of these Village Sports. Plans are afoot to host another of these in Biabou and Sandy Bay before the end of the year.
The plans are to engage all communities in St Vincent and the Grenadines in an annual Village Sports where the entire community can come out to enjoy a fun-filled day of Athletics.
TASVG would also be part of the organisation of a Women’s Sports Day 2011 which will feature women from both the North Windward and North Leeward areas in May organised by the National Olympic Committee’s Women And Sport Commission. The organisation would be part of the Annual Festival of Games organised by the NOC’s Sport For All Commission later in the year.
There is every reason to believe that with the work being undertaken around the country in Athletics the TASVG would be pressured to offer more activities for the nation’s children and youths.
Nothing interests children like sports. The key issue is sustaining that interest. The entire community must be involved in the maintenance of interest by their children in activities that are important to the building of their character and the society from which they come.
The road ahead is tough given the ease with which young people can be distracted into a sedentary lifestyle. There is much work to be done and it is up to all of us to help our children develop their full potential. Sport can do this. Sport can build communities and help in keeping them together, united.
Stuart Louie has taken an initiative that must be commended. There is an example that others can follow and build upon for the benefit of all of St Vincent and the Grenadines.