The main goal of the Sports Department on Statia is to get young people to play sports. Harmen de Vries and Wilfred James explain why kids should become active in sports at a young age: “Health problems like diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure appear frequently on Statia. Regular exercise helps prevent these diseases. Scientific research has proven that when children do not start playing sports at a very young age (4 or 5 years old), 50% of them lose interest in sports around the age of 12 and 70% lose interest when they are 14. Kids on Statia don’t get much opportunity to do sports; they are inactive in their daily lives and in the primary schools there is a lack of P.E. lessons”.
Harmen de Vries thinks it’s high time to pay attention to this. “It’s shocking to see that they can’t perform ordinary movements like jumping or skipping!” he says. There are no funds to pay for P.E. teachers, but he thinks that if the GGD, the innovation bureau and the Commissioner of Education squeeze their budgets, it should be possible.
Proper sports accommodations
Statia wants to develop good sports accom-
modations. The Government has put a lot of effort into funding the new sports hall (opening planned in March 2009).
There is a brand new public swimming pool, and a building on the sports complex will be renovated. In that building there will be room for a bar and for the renting out of sports materials. There will also be room for teams to stay the night when there is a tournament on the island.
As is the case on the other Dutch Antillean islands, there is a Cruyff Court and the track around that court is also in use. In future, lights will be installed around the Cruyff Court.
The Sports Department is also working on a large football-field opposite Sandy Road and they have contacted the Richard Krajicek foundation to build a public tennis court. There is a new cricket field at Man-o-War and the softball court is being leveled.
Encouraging the young
The Sports Department is very active when it comes to encouraging young children to play sports. There is an after school program, they offer swimming lessons for the primary schools and they focus on football. “On the Cruyff Court you can learn to play good football, you can really learn the game on a small court like that”, says Wilfred. “In February 2007 we started playing football with young kids, now we have football practice every Monday and Wednesday and since last month we started up a football tournament on Sunday afternoons from 3 o’clock. It’s very nice to see the parents watching their kids play football”. Harmen says: “What is more fun than seeing your own kids play sports?”
The Swimming Association is also very active. They are organizing a successful Volleyball Knockout to raise funds for 7 swimmers to compete on St. Croix in May.
On April 30th 2008, the 1st Annual Queen’s Birthday Swim Meet will be held. To teach your children to swim, the monthly dues are NAF 40,-. That money is used for training equipment as well as for future travel expenses.
The game of chess is also encouraged. Cedric Lijfrock and Walton Schmidt come to the Gov. de Graaff school every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, from 4 to 5 p.m. to teach the children to play chess.
The Basketball Association organized a successful tournament in March for adults and teenagers.
For the Sports Department these initiatives are good examples of how sports associations should work. Sports associations need many volunteers to train the children, and they need to practice the sport on a regular basis. Adults should feel a responsibility to make this happen. You can only build up a solid organization by holding weekly training sessions and by requiring the children to pay a (small) contribution.
For well-run sports associations it’s easier to raise money and find sponsors and they don’t have to go to the government to ask for money. Many sports associations start training the kids six weeks before there is a tournament. That is not a good way to deal with sports. “The vision is low…” says Wilfred.
Sports powerful tool
Sports is a powerful tool especially in a small community like Statia. It unites people from different families and different religions. By playing sports, children learn to accept one another, have respect for the referee, the coach, the opponent and learn fair play.
The other thing about sports is that you can reach a child in his own field of interest. A child likes to play with a ball and everybody encourages him or her to play with a ball! That gives the child a sense of dignity.
From April 23th to April 27th the Second Dutch Caribbean School Games will be organized. The C.U.S. (Commissie Uitvoering Sportbeleid) initiated this inter-school tournament. 50 students of the Gwendoline van Puttenschool will participate in this event, playing football, volleyball, softball, track & field and swimming. Once the BES islands will have become part of Holland, the C.U.S. will cease to exist. Hopefully the islands will pick up this work.