Honourable Lenard Montoute
Minister for Social Transformation, Public Service, Human Resource Development, Youth and Sports
National Sports Awards Address
February 20, 2010
Allow me to welcome everyone present here, as well as the many viewing and listening via the television and radio to the 2009/2010 Annual Sports Awards Ceremony. Let me also take this opportunity to wish all Saint Lucians a Happy 31st Independence Anniversary.
This year’s ceremony affords us an opportunity to celebrate this last year’s achievements that were realized against tough odds and mounting challenges. For in addition to dwindling resources, occasioned by the current economic situation and ever increasing Government expenditure, we had to grapple with a number of unforeseen, unfortunate occurrences.
The destruction of the St Jude’s Hospital by fire last September has rendered the newly refurbished and internationally acclaimed and certified George Odlum Stadium a limited use facility for sports. This also means a curtailing of revenue normally generated at the facility by Sports Saint Lucia Incorporated. We will continue to collaborate with the Health Authorities and the St Jude’s Task force in ensuring that all that is practicable is done to rebuild St Jude’s and to reinstate the stadium as a full fledged sports facility once again.
Another hindrance to our effort in upgrading and maintaining sporting facilities in the current dry spell that we are experiencing. This situation is presenting a challenge in terms of getting desired results in improving surfaces, as well as in the use of limited resources.
But it has not been entirely a horror story. We overcome many of our challenges of the past year and scored our fair share of successes as well. A crowning moment of the last year was the very successful hosting of the CARIFTA games at the George Odlum Stadium. Even the harshest critics were impressed and fiercest detractors silenced. Lavish praise was showered from local, sub regional and wider regional sources, but the greatest accolade came at the end of the event when the games was declared the biggest and best ever held and our newly refurbished and certified facility, one of the best in the region.
Our Saint Lucian Tram also achieved the feat of returning the best ever performance by a CARIFTA team to date, having captured six (6) medals, which included four (4) Gold and two (2) silver.
This along with many other creditable performances gave the large turnout of local supporters much to cheer about and be proud of. Saint Lucia once again distinguished itself as a capable and worthy host of a major sports event.
There was also many other events successfully hosted and a number of outstanding team and individual performances that will be recognized at this ceremony, that I do not wish to preempt. But allow me to take this opportunity as Minister with responsibility for Sports, to congratulate and encourage all of you who played a role in shaping the success and accomplishments of the last year in sports. Your contribution whether in the vanguard, the sidelines or the hinter ground is much appreciated and acknowledged.
In the course of the last year apart from the Georg Odlum Stadium and the Soufriere Mini Stadium, a number of playing facilities were upgraded. Four (4) playing fields were resurfaced and upgraded under an European Union (EU) sponsored program, which included the Corinth playing field, Grand Riviere Dennery playing field, and the Garrand Babonneau Playing field. As part of the HOPE project, the Vigie
Playing field was also resurfaced and upgraded. Also, in preparation for the 20/20 2010 ICC World Cup. The Beausejour Stadium, the Gros-Islet playing field and the Mindoo Philip Park are being upgraded. In the case of Beausejour Cricket Ground some major refurbishing on a scale of over 3 million dollars is being done. Improvements are also being done to the Philip Marcellin grounds in Vieux Fort and the Marchand Playing field in time for the upcoming School sports.
Along with this wide array of upgraded facilities, it my hope that on the program side we will see some new developments, that will take advantage of the infrastructural investments. I look forward to a higher level, more focused approach to Administration and organization by our National Federation and a new vigour and greater innovation on the part of the Sports Department. Things must be done differently as you are called upon to do more with less. Let your creativity and industry come to the fore in this coming year as we strive to enhance sports in this country.
With greater independence, responsibility and leadership at the community leave, I envisage an upsurge in Domestic Sports and a mushrooming of the Sports for All initiative. We are currently fashioning a remodelling of the Elite Athletes program, to make it more targeted and more tapered to cater more for the truly elite, the cream of the crop, who require that added support to make that breakthrough to the very Pinnacle of Sorts achievement.
The coming Weekes will mark the ground breaking for a state of the art national Tennis Centre in Beausejour. This facility will not only provide a new facility where we are able to host international Tennis, but will also serve to bring tennis to the grassroots of Saint Lucia and the sport more accessible to Saint Lucians of all walks of life. This multimillion dollar, at least six (6) court facilities is being fully financed by the Government of the People’s Republic of China on Taiwan, through its loyal Embassy. I wish to place on record, on behalf of the Government and people of Saint Lucia, our sincere appreciation and gratitude to Ambassador Tom Chou and his staff of the embassy. His Excellency Ambassador Chou has really been a driving force and great facilitator for this very important new initiative. I must also at this juncture take time out, to acknowledge and the thank the Government of Taiwan through its local Embassy for the many interventions at the community level across the island, that has resulted in the establishment or improvement of one kind of playing facility or another. Please convey our heartfelt gratitude to your Government and people. I also wish to express our gratitude to the Government and people of Cuba, through the Ambassador, for the continued support provided to us in sports by way of coaching expertise and scholarships for our nationals to study Physical education. Our sincere thanks Ambassador and we look forward to a continued co-operation in this respect.
With all of these developments mentioned and move, we can optimistically look to the immediate future with hope and enthusiasm. We are well poised to host in the very near future another World Class event, when we stage some of the matches as well as the semi final of the ICC 20/20, 2010 Cricket World Cup at the Beausejour between April and May of this year. I call on all sports loving St Lucians to play their role in ensuring that we are an excellent host and that we stage a very successful event.
There are many other events of lesser stature, but none the less great significance that will be staged as part of our sporting calendar for 2010. We must support these events and uphold the high standard that we have become known for, as we make greater stride in securing a bigger share of the sports tourism niche market.
Finally, I wish to congratulate all recipients of wards and commend all who in one form or fashion contributed positively to the year that was 2009- 2010 in the field of sports. Those who have played a role but nor featured here at this ceremony, I salute you for your unwavering support, commitment and sacrifice that you have made in the area of sports most of the time without reward or recognition.
The road ahead is getting more challenging and the task becoming more daunting. We should however not be deterred or discouraged for the contribution of the sports person is comprised of resilience, determination and the tenacity required to triumph over the challenges that may confront us. Let us all be positive and play a part in the attainment of our laudable goals. Let us unite as one people with a common cause.
Let us embrace the spirit of the year’s Theme -“Tout Sent Lisѐn Se Yon”. When we come together as one – no challenge is insurmountable.
Ladies and gentlemen I thank you.
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