Team Athletics St Vincent and the Grenadines (TASVG) will, in the coming week, commence a new initiative that has been several months in the making. This is a special undertaking that goes by the name, Athletics Olympic Dividend Project, a commitment of Lord Sebastian Coe, president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
TASVG will partner with the National Sports Council (NSC) and several community-based sports organisations around St Vincent and the Grenadines over a period of four years, at the end of which eight (8) zones would each possess its own stock of track and field equipment as well as a cadre of well-trained athletics coaches, technical officials and administrators to ensure sustainable growth and development of the sport.
Objectives of the Project
- To develop at least two (2) Athletics Zones per year over the next four years in St Vincent and the Grenadines. The zones are already identified.
- To introduce Kids In Athletics (KIA) – a fun-based approach to learning the fundamentals of track and field athletics – in the zones, inclusive of within the schools in each zone.
- To create one pit for the horizontal jumps – long and triple – and one area for the Shot and Discus Throws in each zone.
- To provide a stock of track and field equipment in each zone.
- To train a minimum of 10 potential coaches, first at the level of the Caribbean Coaching Certificate Programme (CCCP) – a foundation course – and then at least to IAAF Level #1, in each zone (3 Sprints and Relays; 2 Distance Running; 2 Throws; 2 Jumps and 1 Hurdles).
The project will also pay special attention to the engagement of girls and women in the sport. Over the past several years there has been a significant drop-off in the participation of girls in the sport after the age of 15. Local research has yielded a number of reasons for this and TASVG is committed to redressing this untenable situation. In this regard the collaboration with Soroptimist International is critical for the future of our sport.
The TASVG Athletics Olympic Dividend Project (TAODP) involves the development of athletics zones in different parts of St Vincent and the Grenadines. The identified zones for 2016 are Layou and Sandy Bay.
The zones would be developed in collaboration with the NSC to a point where they become sustainable athletics development institutions. Two zones would be established in any given year of the life of the project.
There is a TASVG Coordination Committee that would liaise with the NSC for the full implementation of the project. There is also a designated a Project Coordinator from TASVG to ensure that it is conducted in the appropriate manner.
The collaboration with the NSC is to ensure that there is in place a Zonal Committee that would manage each zone and ensure that all the requirements for the development of track and field athletics are provided over time, thereby leading to a broad-based development of the sport across St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The NSC has long been putting in place Area Committees which could readily serve the intended purpose outlines here but which must nonetheless include the TASVG designated Athletics Zone Coordinator.
Each zone would therefore feature the following:
- TASVG Athletics Zone Coordinator
- TASVG-trained track and field coaches
- Central equipment reservoir
- A designated area for Shot Put and Discus Throws
- A designated area for Long and Triple Jump
- TASVG-trained technical officials
- TASVG-trained track and field administrators
- Track and Field volunteer corps
- Community-based multisport clubs
The NSC would facilitate the provision of storage space for the equipment in the respective zones as well as oversee their security while monitoring their storage.
Mr Woodrow ‘Keylee’ Williams, this country’s lone IAAF-certified technical officials’ instructor, has been involved in the identification of appropriate locations in each zone for the construction of the throwing and horizontal jumps areas.
The TASVG strategy is intended to ensure that over time each of the zones would have reason enough to significantly increase the participation of children, youths and adults in the various areas of track and athletics in St Vincent and the Grenadines. To this end there are several complementary programmes that are part and parcel of the overall focus of the organisation’s approach.
Community multisport clubs
St. Vincent and the Grenadines like many of the Caribbean Islands is blessed with immense athletic talent. However, the development of such talent is limited due the lack of strategic planning, weak governance structures and policies and poor infrastructure, amongst other factors. These deficiencies have led to a loss of community interest in sport and have limited the benefits that can accrue to the country to benefit from the opportunities that can be gained through sports.
TASVG is collaborating with the National Olympic Committee in seeking to recapture the community interest in physical activity and sport as well as create strategies that would lead to the holistic development of sports in the entire nation.
The establishment of community based multi-sports clubs is a prime strategy towards the promotion and development of sports in the country. Given the lack of appropriate facilities and the economic realities of our country multisport clubs constitute an ideal support base for the development of sport. These institutions can also generate a sustainable development pathway for track and field athletics.
The application of the Olympic Values Education Programme (OVEP) on the curriculum of the nation’s schools will lead to the spill-off of these values into the community based multi-sports clubs as the youths become integrated in the multi-sports clubs.
Team Athletics St Vincent and the Grenadines is at the forefront of the strategy to establish community multisport clubs after careful analysis of the historical experiences of club formation, structure and performance across St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Physical Literacy and Long Term Athlete Development
St Vincent and the Grenadines is one of six Caribbean countries whose National Olympic Committees have entered into an agreement through the Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committees (CANOC) with the Canadian Olympic Committee to have the Sport for Life’s Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) programme introduced.
According to the founders, Sport for Life builds and improves national/regional sport systems; develops athlete development models & pathways; trains and educates sport system leaders (government, sport organisations, educational leaders) in Sport for Life principles; analyses funding; assesses and aligns systems of competition; and builds comprehensive strategies toward sustainable sport systems
One of the most critical features of the Sport for Life programme is the cultivation of a culture of physical literacy. This is lacking in St Vincent and the Grenadines and its introduction will facilitate the understanding of the importance of physical exercise and track and field athletes as foundational requirements for a full, active life for all. Our sport will reap immense benefits from its involvement in this joint undertaking.
Women in Sport
TASVG will also be actively involved in a joint project that is a collaboration between the National Olympic Committee and the Vincentian Chapter of Soroptomist International, that seeks to improve the capability of adolescent female athletes to display socially acceptable behaviours at all times especially while representing St. Vincent and the Grenadines in sporting events locally, regionally and internationally. It is expected to generate interest in sports as a lifelong engagement. The project would therefore pay special attention to improving the social skills and social interaction of these young female athletes through meeting the following objectives:
- To see sports as an integral part of their
- To inspire young girls to be confident self-assured young adults.
- To develop life and coping skills.
- To encourage the young girls to lead healthy lifestyles.
- To motivate the girls to make decisions that result in positive outcomes in all circumstances
- To help the girls identify, mitigate and extract themselves from negative or problematic
- To teaching the girls how to negotiate safe conditions.
- To encourage familial support for the girls’ sporting careers and personal development
Building on the past
Track and Field athletes have had a fair measure of success at the regional and international level with gold medals at the World University Student Games (1995), the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India, and the Central American and Caribbean Championships (1995, 2014), bronze medals at the Pan American Games (1995, 2015) as well as at the Central American and Caribbean Games (2006) and several medals at the annual Carifta Games. Despite these achievements however there is not in place as yet an appropriate structure that engages the entire nation in knowing, understanding and encouraging participation in the sport to facilitate the tapping of the vast potential that is evident.
There is not a consistent flow of athletes along a sustainable development pathway such that we can proudly boast of a succession of young athletes to replace the older ones exiting the scene. This project is intended to facilitate that sustainable developmental pathway that challenges our coaches and athletes to see career options in the sport. Its success depends on making the sport more attractive and engaging children from a very early age. Equipment would not now be a problem.
This country has an abundance of talent but there is gross disparity of access to appropriate facilities, equipment and administrative and technical personnel in the sport in different parts of the nation. Should the proposed project prove attractive and engender support, we should witness a new phase in the sport in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The challenge is open to all Vincentians.