The making of a national schools’ sports policy

The national sports policy of St Vincent and the Grenadines was something that took far too long to be put in place. The National Olympic Committee, recognising the need and understanding its importance to the development of sport and the broader national development process, brought the stakeholders together and fashioned the first draft of the policy. This was then reviewed and the final document forwarded to the government for approval and implementation.
Happily successive governments have accepted the policy. This does not however mean that the national sports policy is being fully implemented and from time to time this has given rise to much concern by sporting bodies.
The preamble of the national sports policy states:
Physical education and sport are twin disciplines that are seen as particularly important to the broader national development process of any country anywhere in the world.
Physical education focuses on getting people, from childhood to learn basic movements and coordination. This is critical to the later introduction of sport to the individual. Sport is perceived as the application of the coordinated movements learnt in physical education to a particular discipline. Sport allows for the more deliberate application of the basic skills learnt in physical education to the technical requirements of football or athletics or swimming, for example.
It should however be noted that the Mission of the policy states:
To ensure that all Vincentians have equal access to physical education, recreation and sports, both within the education system and other aspects of social life.
Section 7.3 of the policy declares:
Physical Education shall be on the curriculum of all educational institutions in Saint. Vincent and the Grenadines. Each institution shall be equipped with a trained teacher with designated responsibility for physical education.
While the intention is clearly to have physical education and sport constitute an integral part of the school’s programme we have been particularly tardy in ensuring that this is the case in respect of physical education. It is a truism that were it not for the fact that physical education was made an examination subject at the level of the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) we would probably not have made much about making the subject compulsory in our education institutions.
Even now, we are still very tardy and PE is not yet seen as a sufficient priority area to commit a special number of scholarship opportunities to this area each year. One is not at all certain that as yet we have an adequate understanding of the state of physical education in our schools. Students are left to opt out of PE sessions once they are at the stage where they have excluded it from their CXC options. This is very unfortunate since it suggests that it is limited to one’s academic development as a subject and not yet understood as critical to one’s life.
Much has been made of sport but there is so much of an emphasis on competition rather than a genuine attempt at imparting skills and bolstering participation that we lose a significant number of students from this exercise annually, to their own detriment and that of the entre Vincentian society.
We try therefore, in this article, to examine some components for the making of a national schools sports policy.
The annual schools programme in St Vincent and the Grenadines shall fall under the Ministry of Education.
The Ministry of Education shall establish a Schools Games Committee, which shall be charged with the responsibility for the planning, administration and evaluation of all of the sport competitions under its ambit.
The Deputy Chief Education Officer is the official chairperson of the Schools Games Committee.
There shall be an Organising Committee for each of the sports for which there are competitions between the nation’s education institutions. The chairmanship of each such Committee shall be the representative of the respective national federation (NF).
The Schools Games Committee shall endeavour to engage in four-year planning cycles for the various sport competitions. The Committee shall announce the dates of the respective sport competitions for any academic year at the same time that all other components of the year’s programme is being circulated to all institutions.
Physical Education and Sport are twin-disciplines that are integral to the rounded development of each individual and hence constitute an important component of the education programme of all students in St Vincent and the Grenadines. The basis of sport is physical education.
Physical education shall therefore be compulsory at all schools and at all levels regardless of whether or not the student has selected it as an option for his/her CXC examinations, given its importance to an individual’s life.
Participation in sport while at school is the right of every student. Participation in competition shall be encouraged at all institutions.
All schools shall be encouraged to participate in the several competitions organised by the Schools Games Committee.
The Ministry of Education shall facilitate the full participation of the schools in the Grenadines such that they are not in any way disadvantaged in the annual competitions.

All competitions organised by the Schools Games Committee shall seek official sanction from the respective National Federation (NF) and therefore be held under the auspices of the respective International Federation (IF).
March Pass
Each competition shall begin with a March Pass of participating teams. The March Pass must be deliberately planned and choreographed. The plans must be circulated amongst schools at the time of the Registration so all will be on the same page and appropriately prepared.
Consideration shall be given to the inclusion of the following awards for the March Pass:
a. Best at March Pass
b. Best uniformed Team
c. Best Banner on Parade
Teams participating in competitions must be in full uniform. Schools shall ensure compliance with the Rules in respect of the use of proper uniforms by their participating students in the respective competitions. This facilitates the inculcation of discipline amongst the students and enhances the image of the respective schools.

Appropriate sports protocols shall be followed at all sports on the programme of the Schools Games Committee. This shall be consistent with the requirements of the respective IFs as well as of the Ministry of Education.
Due attention shall be paid to Opening, Closing and Award Ceremonies of the various sporting events allowing for recognition of the participants, winners, technical officials, administrators and volunteers by all involved. The ceremonies shall be so prepared as to enhance the respective sports competition and must not in any way detract from the real purpose, the performance of the athletes
Technical Manuals
The Schools Games Committee shall prepare Technical Manuals for each of the sport competitions organised. These documents shall serve as the official Regulations for the respective competitions. The Regulations shall be consistent with those of the respective International Federations. The Manuals shall be circulated at the same time that the Ministry of Education informs schools about the new academic year and its programme for the period. These Manuals are included in this Policy as appendices.
Prior to the commencement of each of the competitions there shall be a Technical Meeting involving the Sub Committee of the particular sport and representatives of all participating schools at which the Regulations shall be explained and discussed and, where necessary, amended.
Technical Officials
Care shall be taken to ensure the proper identification, training and selection of technical officials for the respective sport competitions.
Technical officials required to officiate at the different competitions shall be identified early enough to allow for adequate leave requests to be submitted to their employers. Such letters shall stipulate the function, date(s) and times for which leave is being requested. Such leave shall fall under the concept of national service and be so recognised by the employers of the selected persons.
Training and competition equipment consistent with the requirements of the International Federations for each sport shall be available to ensure athletes’ have requisite access. A number of extra equipment must be available in the event of breakage of malfunction.
The Schools Games Committee shall endeavour to facilitate access to equipment by all schools participating in its competitions.

The Schools Games Committee shall endeavour to acquire and use all pertinent technology pertinent and available to each of the sport competitions on its annual programme. Where acquisition is not feasible the Schools Games Committee shall rely on the respective NF to provide such technology or assist with access to it.
The Schools Games Committee shall promote its several sport competitions amongst the participating and non-participating students, past students and the public at large to facilitate awareness and attendance.
Sports Medicine
The Schools Games Committee shall ensure the full inclusion of Sports Medicine personnel at all of its competitions. The latter shall provide the Committee with details of their needs well in advance of any competition to ensure provision in a timely manner.
The School Games Committee shall satisfy itself that the Sports Medicine personnel provided for the respective competitions are appropriately trained to the level of competence required
The Schools Games Committee shall ensure the full inclusion of the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force on the Planning Sub Committee for each of the sport competitions held under its ambit.
Adequate security shall be provided at all sport competitions.
Schools around the nation shall be encouraged to involve security personnel on the respective Organising Committees for their internal school sport competitions.
Environment Management
The Schools Games Committee shall ensure the full inclusion of Environment Management personnel at all of its competitions.
Schools shall be encouraged to pay attention to the National Olympic Committee’s (NOC) Sport and the Environment Commission’s programme to promote greater awareness of the importance of protecting the environment at all times by our sportspersons.
During school sport competitions announcers should promote sport and the environment as a matter of principle, urging all to be alert and conscientious in this regard.
The School Games Committee shall endeavour to secure sponsors for its respective sport competitions. Such sponsors shall be consistent with the positive values promoted by the Ministry of Education.
Sponsors shall be afforded opportunities to showcase their brand and products at the competitions in which they are involved.