CASTRIES, St Lucia -- The Caribbean has produced some of the world’s most outstanding athletes and most recognised faces yet the business of sport remains a fledgling enterprise, despite the millions invested.
Between June 10-23, 2013, Saint Lucia will play host to a major new initiative, the Sport in Black & White Conference and Youth Forum designated as the Third Sport and the Global South International Conference will bring together leaders in the fields of sport and youth development to tackle and debate a range of pressing issues for the first time in the Caribbean.
The aim is to create an annual Caribbean forum for change, which fosters input directly from youth, policy makers, sports tourism stakeholders, sports men and women, educators and corporate interests.
Working closely with The Centre for the Study of Sport and Leisure in Society at the Academy of International Sport, George Mason University, key decision makers will come together with local, regional and international experts and sports personalities. The conference will provide detailed strategic advice and guidance on key issues relating to sport, its impact on social development and the business opportunities that can transform performance.
“This conference is an important showcase for sport in St Lucia and the wider Caribbean,” said Fortuna Belrose, acting permanent secretary in the Ministry of Youth Development and Sport. “We are pleased to be able to partner with the Sacred Sports Foundation for the first annual Sport in Black & White Conference and Youth Forum.”
“Many of our young athletes and administrators enter the international sporting arena ill-equipped for the challenges ahead of them. The Conference will identify priorities with respect to key approaches to sporting performance and social development,” said Delroy Alexander, chairman of Sacred Sports Foundation, the organisation behind the initiative. “It will provide critical guidance on sports policy, youth advocacy, elite performance, sport governance, gender, discrimination, injury prevention, fitness and nutrition.”
Spread over two weeks between June 10-23, the conference will include seminars, workshops; youth sport policy forum and an international youth sports exchange.
Key elements of the gathering include the first ever College Showcase, Trials and Youth Tournament, working in collaboration with the St Lucia Football Association, The National Soccer Coaches Association of America and The Professional Footballers Association in the UK.
The showcase will take place over the weekend of June 14-June 17, 2013. Top agents, players and officials will also gather to discuss the business of sport and link regional players with contacts around the world.
The trial is open to Caribbean youth between 16 to 20. Scouts and talent evaluators are also expected to be in attendance. Youth that are set to complete secondary school will have the chance to meet and perform in front of coaches at Junior College level. More advanced academic students will have the opportunity to showcase their talent for NAIA schools and NCAA Division I, II and III. Participants will be assigned together and "the team" will participate in evening matches against other groups.
In addition, Saint Lucia will also host a major u16/U17 international soccer tournament. Two US teams have been confirmed. One leading UK team is expected to attend, alongside teams from as far afield as Europe and even Africa.
The rationale behind the conference is also to build export/inward investment opportunities for Saint Lucia and the wider Caribbean’s professional services and tourism and sports businesses.
“We are indeed very excited at the prospect of collaborating with Sacred Sports Foundation on this extremely important initiative,” said Andrena Simon, marketing, advertising and communications officer at the Office of Private Sector Relations (OPSR), the agency mandated to undertake the functions of the National Trade Export Promotions Agency (TEPA) in Saint Lucia. “We aspire to increase local exports, to assist local businesses, improve profitability and long term sustainability. The business of ‘sport tourism’ is of particular focus at this time because of its importance in stimulating economic growth and meeting Saint Lucia’s development goals. Sport in Black in White Conference & Youth Forum ticks all these boxes and more and will be making a direct and valuable contribution to the Saint Lucian economy.”