Youth sports camps begin in Tobago

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

An aerial view of the Dwight Yorke Stadium, Bacolet, Tobago. PHOTO BY JEFF K MAYERS –

Youth sports camps are under way at venues across Tobago.

Addressing the launch on Tuesday at the Dwight Yorke Stadium, Minister of Sport and Community Development Shamfa Cudjoe commended the participants, noting the benefits of sports to the development of communities.

The programme, she said, is being hosted by the Sports Company of TT and her ministry.

Acknowledging that sport in Tobago is a fifth-schedule item that falls under the remit of the THA, she said, “For me it’s a real pleasure to extend whatever programmes we have in Trinidad. I try to make it my business to extend it to Tobago.

“While politics and politicians do what they do, people who are passionate about sport, who understand the true impact of sport – we must do what we must, because we have a duty to build the people and to build our communities and to truly maximise the full potential of sport.”

Participants at the camps are aged 7-17. She said over 1,113 youngsters had signed up to participate in 13 camps across the island in 15 different sporting disciplines, along with 67 coaches and ten marshals.

She said the figure gave her immense pride.

The programme will only run for two weeks, and Cudjoe commented: “We have to go beyond having these short-term programmes throughout the year. I am not a fan of your one-day sport and fun days.

“Yes, it brings communities together, but after that, what?

“Tobagonians, you have to move beyond that (to) building sporting academies – what St Clair’s Coaching School used to mean to us, what Paradise Hockey Club used to mean to us. There is work to be done beyond that one day, beyond that one week.”

She said the camp is just a “whetting of the appetite.”

“There is work for us to do.

“I feel pleased to have the camp. Yes, it’s two weeks, I’m not happy that it’s two weeks, but so many things happened during this July/August period, but we didn’t want to start and then just break for (the) Commonwealth Youth Games and then start again.

“Then I was saying that maybe we should just start something during the school term that was in keeping with the budget that I wanted to see, because I found that the budget was too high for two weeks. But we were able to rework the budget, and rework the time, and, interestingly, get 67 persons on board in Tobago who said, ‘We are willing to go the distance.’”

Director at the Sport Company of TT Diane Antoine said one of the organisation’s goals is to find a way to develop sportpeople. She said the organisation believes sport is one way communities can be better developed.

“We want use of sport to teach life skills. So coaches, when the children are with you, you’re not looking for the next Ato Boldon or the next Dwight Yorke.

“We are looking to impart to them the kind of principles that would cause them to be good citizens. You have to be role models; you have to be mentors.”

Another director, Jomo Pitt, echoed Antoine. He said he had visited a couple of the camps, and despite the bad weather, he had seen the enthusiasm the participants displayed, which gave an indication of how much they had been looking forward to the camps.