HELPING HAND: CARIFTA Games bronze medallist Sarah Belle receiving a donation from DLP candidate for St Michael East Rodney Grant. (Picture by Ria Goodman.)
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DEMOCRATIC LABOUR PARTY candidate for St Michael East, Rodney Grant, believes greater investment needs to be made in sports and culture.
His comments came during a presentation to assist CARIFTA Games bronze medallist Sarah Belle to compete at the Penn Relays in Philadelphia at the Pinelands Creative Workshop Marcus Garvey Resource Centre last Friday.
“We stand out in the region not because of our great politics or great economics. We stand out because of our athletics and our cultural icons, and we are not putting enough into those two areas.
“These are the industries we really need to expand on because people throughout the world know us for these things,” said Grant.
He told NATIONSPORT he recognised the importance of supporting athletes and the development of sport, adding that it needed to be included as part of a strategy to encourage the youth.
“There is too much potential in terms of looking at sports as an industry that we are not yet tapping into, and when you look at sport development, it is not only the athlete himself or herself, it is the whole concept of the management and the medical aspect of sport that we need to look at and explore.”
Grant also explained when the potential was realised, youth were often forgotten but there were countless opportunities for scholarships as well as ongoing education which could help to take the pressure off of families.
“Usually there is one, or two that get through … Maybe the parents continue to push, but you see the potential at primary school and at the secondary school, and then it is nothing.
“When I look at Sarah I see a lot of potential but we see this potential early and then we lose them along the way. There isn’t any continuity. I said to Sarah’s mother, ‘I want to be able to see Sarah through in terms of the completion of her career because we allow too many young people to fall through the cracks’,” he said.
He said it was an opportune time to ensure she took part at the Penn Relays since there were scouts there who could observe her talent.
Belle, 15, said her experience at her first CARIFTA Games was surreal after finishing third in the Under-17 Girls’ 100 metres hurdles in a time of 13.55 seconds.
“That experience was amazing and shocking because that was my first time and I actually feel really proud of myself that I could bring home a bronze medal and it was my first time at CARIFTA. I was very nervous, but I did my best,” she said.
She added that she would most likely be competing in the 4x100 and 4x400 in Philadelphia and was hoping to give of her best.