Despite understaffing, St. Maarten sports development continues

POSTED: 01/29/13 12:52 PM

St. Maarten – Since 10.10.10 the Department of Sports and Youth Affairs has existed as one body. The government has seen the need for a separation of the two but severe understaffing could further affect the implementation of projects, when the unit splits. Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports, Silveria Jacobs told Parliament on Friday, that the department is 50 percent understaffed.  As a unit, Sports and Youth Affairs currently require 12 people, however there are only 6 employees. It was agreed upon to separate sports and youths in the organization structure projected staff is 12 persons but there are only 6.

The Department of Youth and Sports exist as one body however the need for a separation was seen in the organizational structure of government. So it was agreed upon to separate sports and youths.

With the government’s new organizational structure, Youth Affairs would be the umbrella department  for the proposed Children and Recreational Development Foundation with a staff of 9 persons. In reality, there is only 1 individual available for this function.

Under sports, will fall the proposed Sports and Recreational Development Foundation with a staff of 12 persons but there are only 3 persons who fall directly under the foundation, currently.

“That type of understaffing can lead to programmes not being implemented as they are necessary. However, the ministry has been recruiting and the staff is projected to increase within short. This has been budgeted for,” Minister Jacobs told Parliament following a request by United People’s Party Parliamentarian drs. Gracita Arrindell for more information on the ministry’s staffing needs.

The ministry has budgeted 1, 285, 54.00 guilders for the department of sports, personnel and operations for 2013. However the overall operations and execution could run close to 4.5 million guilders, Jacobs said.

Sports and Recreational Development Foundation

The Raoul Illidge Sports Foundation and Foundation Upkeep Sports are to be incorporated into the Sports and Recreational Development Foundation. However, there is some legality in getting this combination accomplished, the minister said. It is expected to result in more structured hosting of events and funding for other sporting associations on the island. Minister Jacobs said that the ministry has had some serious challenges because of similar associations hosting events at the same time. She highlighted two separate entities hosting scholastic games simultaneously, as an example.

This the minister said, can also affect students who are often the same group of athletes, participating in various events.

“It is counterproductive when two or more organizations are promoting the same sports,” Jacobs said.

The new sports foundation will be able to regulate these types of practices, the minister believes. She explained that all sporting associations will be asked to register at the Sports Foundation and also provide information on their objectives and calendar of events. Apart from the information being published on a website, that the ministry plans to create, it will also eliminate conflicts that may arise as a result of competing events.

Management of sporting facilities will also fall under the new foundation.

“Many facilities are on the list for upgrading and greater possibilities will exist in the future of the programs, whereby the public will be able to make more use of the facilities.”

Through her integrated sports policy, Jacobs wants to see all youth involved in some type of sport, especially those that are considered to be exclusive such as tennis and golf. More females can also take a positive example from various politicians, who are actively involved in sports, the minister said.

The draft sports policy specifically talks about sports within the school curriculum.  It will also facilitate the participation of women and girls in sporting activities including its administration, all roles that are traditionally male dominated “to get as many possible of our natural talents to meet to their highest potential and even aiming as far as the Olympic level,” Jacobs added.

For years, local groups have been organizing events such as inter-district sports and even regional contests. The ministry has been working along with these associations; however it has no structured sports programme, Jacobs said.

The minister said that she is satisfied with the efforts being made by the many NGOS who have been carrying the torch for sports development in St. Maarten.

However more can be done in terms of finances and human resources capacity.

Finalization of the Sports Development Foundation will see the planning of a calendar of activities such as the Interscholastic Olympiad for 2013. Annual baseball, soccer, volleyball, basketball and swimming tournaments are to follow soon after.

When asked whether she was pleased with the amount of money that is allocated for sports development, Jacobs said no.

“However focus must be on short medium  and long term programs. In some areas we have been able to stay within the budget.”

She did not disclose details on the amount of money that was spent last year for sports, preferring to wait for closure of the budget year in March.

Funding

The minister disclosed that highest structured subsidy goes to the Sports Upkeep Foundation, seconded by the St. Maarten Little League while the Heineken Regatta receives the highest incidental subsidy, annually. The Regatta Committee also ranks as the number subsidy recipient overall, Jacobs said. For structural and incidental subsidies, foundations must comply with Articles 11, 12 and 13 of Subsidy Ordinance.

The Regatta, Jacobs said, apart from being the major sports tourism activity for the island, has also been able to attract young people. There has been an increase in interest and young people are able to acquire sailing skills, through lessons, learn more about the maritime industry, or even volunteerism, Jacobs said.

The minister cautioned that sport associations who require funds must make use of the legal channels to do so. If children are sent out to solicit donations, they must have a stamped document in their possession. The document should have the stamp of the Police and the organization which they represent.

 

 

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