St Vincent and the Grenadines has this year hosted what many seem to think was the best organised and executed Inter Schools Athletics Championships of all time. Credit for this success must go to the Schools Games Committee (SGC) of the Ministry of Education, under the leadership of Deputy Chief Education Officer, Beverly Neptune, and the Athletics Sub Committee. The latter started its planning in the final term of the 2011/12 academic year.
In addition to the Athletics Championships, the SGC has successfully completed Football, Netball, Basketball, Volleyball and Cricket competitions during the current 2012/13 academic year.
The system of establishing sub Committees of the SGC to oversee the planning and execution of the several competitions, while still experiencing some problems, has nonetheless proven to be the best approach for guaranteed success and sustainability.
The academic year is not yet completed and other competitions are still to be held at both the secondary and primary schools levels.
The 2012/13 academic year has however proved, thus far, to be a most productive one for the Ministry of Education.
The Organising Committee
In 2012 the organisers of the annual WINLOTT/CBN Windward Islands Schools Games agreed that the next edition would be held in St Vincent and the Grenadines in 2013. Once informed the Schools Games Committee (SGC) in the Ministry of Education, commenced work.
At a special meeting of the SGC held at the Ministry of Education Annex on 22 October 2012, the Organising Committee was named, headed by the Deputy Chief Education Officer.
The several critical areas for hosting successful sporting events were included in the Organising Committee:
Chairman & Deputy Chairman
Ministry of Finance
Financial & Sponsorship
Media, Promotions & Communications
The Organising Committee also includes representation from the Sub Committees of the sports on the programme of the WINLOTT/CBN Windward Islands Schools Games 2013: Athletics, Basketball, Netball and Volleyball. The Sub Committees were charged with responsibility for planning and executing the competitions of their respective sports for the duration of the Games.
Since its formation the designated Organising Committee has engaged in a number of activities consistent with the commitment to ensure the success of the Games here later this year budget was prepared using the experiences of hosting the Games on two previous occasions as well as the very successful edition hosted by Grenada in 2012.
It has to be understood that some 280 persons are expected to constitute the four teams that would be participating in the annual event.
Armed with the budget the Ministry of Education made a submission to the Ministry of Finance for approval to host the Games and to access the requisite funding to facilitate its actual success.
At the first approach the Minister of Finance gave tacit approval but it was on Thursday 18 April 2013 that Cabinet gave final and full approval for what was submitted.
At a meeting in early March 2013 the Organising Committee held discussions with the WINLOTT and National Lotteries Authority regarding the hosting of the WINLOTT/CBN Windward Islands Schools Games 2013 in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
At that meeting WINLOTT indicated the organisation’s commitment to the annual event but reminded the Organising Committee of the concerns expressed in the past about the way in which the event is usually planned and executed.
In response the Organising Committee explained that the members were aware of the concerns of WINLOTT, CBN and the NLA and it was precisely this which led to an early approach to inform of the status of the planning process as well as to garner some insight into the funding coming from the sponsors relative to the edition of the Games for 2013.
Bullock informed the meeting that the contributions from WINLOTT, CBN and the NLA would remain at the level of 2012.
The Organising Committee engaged in a comprehensive review of the WINLOTT/CBN Windward Islands Schools Games 2013 in order to better prepare itself as host and also to deliver a national representative team that would serve the country well in the competitions. The following recommendations were agreed:
- Athletes must be identified and selected at the end of inter secondary school sports. Athletes involved with individual coaches can be allowed to continue their training with their coaches in the early stages before final selection is done. They must however be advised on the specific workouts to be done.
- Each Sub Committee must ensure that competitions are organized at the school level to allow for selection of teams.
- Teams selected must also participate in national competitions so as to allow for them to develop a sound playing relationship in competition
- The selection of all teams should be done by the end of the second term. This would allow for proper medical screening. It will also provide adequate time for ensuring that the students without the necessary travel documents have adequate time to do so.
- There must be a policy document from the level of the Ministry of Education with regard to student participation as too many coaches have too much personal control over athletes.
- After the team is selected there should be continuous practice session for teams selected to allow for the gelling of team members.
Training squads have been selected and training has already commenced in several of the sports.
One of the major challenges faced with the preparation of the Vincentian team is the fact that several players are multidisciplinary and their training for one sport often clashes with that of another sport.
Media, Promotions & Communications
Work on the media, promotions and communications aspect of the WINLOTT/CBN Windward Islands Schools Games 2013 began even as the same sub committee was working on facilitating a very successful Inter Schools Athletics Championships.
Information is being collected on athletes to be used in promoting the Games. The Inter Secondary School Athletics Championships were used to identify and access some athletes in this regard.
The official launch of the WINLOTT/CBN Windward Islands Schools Games 2013 is earmarked to take place as an independent event to give it a significantly high profile.
Plans are already in place to document the WINLOTT/CBN Windward Islands Schools Games 2013 and have it as part of the archives of this country’s sporting history.
Consideration is also being given to establishing an official flag, logo, theme and song for the Games.
Inspector Hawkins Nanton has been designated the official representative of the Ministry of National Security on the Organising Committee and he has already indicated that a security plan has been prepared for the duration of the Games.
Parents and government are always very concerned that their children have access to good medical care while attending Games. This area, under the leadership of Perry De Freitas, has been engaged in the planning process.
The Sports Medicine Association will work with the Red Cross to handle the different events and consideration is being given to enhanced collaboration between the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment and the Organising Committee in several areas, not the least of which is the provision of a Medical facility at the Games Village.
Hosting the WINLOTT/CBN Windward Islands Schools Games 2013 is a major challenge. St Vincent and the Grenadines is preparing itself and already there is a certain amount of hype generated around the event.
In every sport there is keen interest on having the country’s athletes perform at their best.
The public and private sectors must be brought together to aid in ensuring that we place our very best foot forward and that this country’s sporting status is enhanced at the end of the Games.