LONDON, England – Members of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s sport for the development and peace team, together with the appointed consultants Thuso Group, have met with Samal Mojah Duggins, minister with responsibility for sport and culture (creative economy), the permanent secretary Valencia Syder and the members of the National Sports Council (NSC) in St Kitts and Nevis to help support the implementation of the nation’s National Sport Policy.
The Caribbean nation recently began pushing forward with the implementation of the National Sports Policy and Strategic Plan 2022-2026, which seeks to enhance citizens involvement in sports and physical activity, expand the role and influence of sports across various sectors, and foster the professional development of athletes.
It also outlines the obligations of public and private sector stakeholders to work together to utilise sport as an effective tool for sustainable development, peace-building and improving health outcomes.
The Commonwealth Secretariat has been providing technical support for the implementation of the National Sports Policy, which was originally due to launch in 2020 but was delayed due to COVID-19.
Members of the media were briefed on the ambitious objectives at a press conference on Thursday, 9 February.
Speaking ahead of the launch, Layne Robinson, head of social policy development, Economic, Youth & Sustainable Development Directorate (EYSD), at the Commonwealth Secretariat, said:
“The Commonwealth believes that sport for development and peace, rightly utilised and supported, can contribute to improving health and education, creating employment, stimulating economic development, and realising human rights and gender equality.
“Our work in St Kitts and Nevis to strengthen the national sport policy and strategic plan should accelerate the benefits that can be realised from investing in sport.
“With the support of the government and stakeholders, we believe St Kitts and Nevis can become a model for other Commonwealth countries on how to effectively harness the power of sport for development and peace. We look forward to the next steps from our technical support.”
The National Sport Plan will have profound implications for the health of the citizens of St Kitts and Nevis. Currently, 80 percent of morbidity and mortality in the islands result from non-communicable ‘lifestyle’-related diseases, such as heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes – a more active community has the potential to significantly reduce pressure on healthcare services and minimise the occurrence of preventable deaths.
Likewise, the policy aligns with recent initiatives to strengthen health and wellness provision in schools throughout the country, as well as leveraging opportunities for revenue generation through sports tourism and recreation.
The policy also seeks to maximise the opportunities for elite athletes from St Kitts and Nevis, building on the successes of Olympians such as Kim Collins, Jason Rogers, Amya Clarke, Antoine Adams, Lestrod Rowland, Diane Dunrod, Tameka Williams, and Brijesh Lawrence, ensuring future generations of sportsmen and women can excel on the world stage.
St Kitts and Nevis National Sport Council, the department of sport, the ministry of agriculture, fisheries, marine resources and cooperatives, small business and entrepreneurship, sport and the creative economy, and the Commonwealth Secretariat, drawing on the technical expertise of Thuso Group, are now prepared to begin the roll-out of the policy, with clear targets in place for the next five years.
Alongside the launch of the plan, the National Sport Council, chaired by Glenn Quinlan, convened a meeting of stakeholders to discuss the coordination and implementation of the National Sport Policy.
Duggins said: “Sport is critical for holistic country development. I want to highlight my Ministry’s accomplishments so far in terms of the full implementation of the National Sport Policy. These include developing a clear Policy, and adopting a theory of change – a clear roadmap has been created, a results-oriented framework is in place, and tools have been made available to implement the National Sport Policy.”
H.E. Dame Marcella Althea Liburd, GCMG, JP, Governor-General of St Kitts and Nevis, said:
“It is very positive indeed to see such a range of stakeholders from throughout both Islands of St Kitts and Nevis brought together by the National Sports Council, at the behest of our government, and with the support of the Commonwealth Secretariat, to drive forward the implementation of the National Sport Policy, which has long-reaching implications for health, well-being, fitness, and achievement of the citizenry of our nation.”
Dr Lin Sambili-Gicheha, project manager, sport for development and peace team, Commonwealth Secretariat, who has been working in-country with the wider team, added:
“As the Commonwealth Secretariat Officer on the ground for this mission in St Kitts and Nevis, it has been a privilege to witness the commitment of the local stakeholders in the implementation of the Policy, identifying sport as one of the most recognisable elements of the Commonwealth; it represents an important thread in the rich tapestry of our traditions.
Sport is a key feature in the 2023 Commonwealth Year of Youth activities and the forthcoming the Commonwealth NCD Strategy. Moreover, I have been particularly pleased to be able to introduce key stakeholders to The Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), a free capacity-building resource on Sport for Sustainable Development designed by the Commonwealth Secretariat, The International Platform on Sport and Development (sport and dev) and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).”