The Public Entity Saba recently presented its 2022-2025 Sports Policy. The intention is to use sports on Saba as a tool to promote a healthy lifestyle, teach life skills and encourage positive social interaction. The Sports Policy outlines a clear vision for the future of sports on Saba—to use sports as a means to a healthy lifestyle and encourage sports as an empowerment tool. Sports can be a method to teach life skills, as an alternative way of exercising, and to promote positive social interaction.
The Sports Policy contains four strategic priority areas for implementation that are necessary for a strong foundation in continuing to develop sports on Saba: sports in school, rotating sports seasons, community involvement, and the Saba United Sports Federation. The priority areas were based on discussions within the Public Health and Sports Department, input from stakeholders, including the schools, and a sports hall meeting with members of the sports community.
The aim is to have the priorities result in sports being incorporated in the gym class curriculum in the schools, Saba hosting and attending more inter-island competitions, more people feeling empowered to organize sporting events, more people feeling welcome to participate in sports, promotion of sports by the Saba United Sports Federation, using sports as an empowerment tool to promote positive social interaction.
The goals that have been identified in the Sports Policy are to set a clear framework for an overall sports federation, to expose the population to a wider variety of sports for a broader perspective, to encourage the community to get involved, to reduce barriers to participation and organization of sports, to encourage inclusivity in sports, to encourage better collaboration between all stakeholders in sports, and to promote integrity, respect, inclusion, discipline, and leadership through sports.
The Sports Policy will also contribute to achieving the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, an agreement which Saba feels a responsibility to align with as a special municipality of the Netherlands.
Value of sports
Commissioner of Public Health and Sports Rolando Wilson was very content with the presentation of the Sports Policy 2022-2025. “The value of sports and recreation on our island simply cannot be overemphasized. Not only are they fundamental in improving our health and fitness levels but they are also the key to keeping our community constructively occupied. Much more than this though, is that it provides our young people with the hope that they will be able to compete locally, regionally, and internationally in various sports disciplines,” he stated.
“With the awareness that sports are essential for our people’s health and that it contributes to various aspects of our personal development, I look forward to us making sports a priority to improve our lifestyle here on Saba,” said Wilson.
Investing in the advancement of sports on Saba offers a unique opportunity to address some of the challenges that Saba faces in an accessible and inclusive manner. The challenges include people getting insufficient physical activity, damaging alcoholic consumption, and behavioral, social and/or emotional problems.
Sports have always been a major component of life on Saba. Children are introduced to sports as a recreational activity from youth programs, continue on to competitive teams in secondary school, and many remain involved throughout adulthood. The main sports currently recognized on Saba are basketball, volleyball, soccer, and softball/baseball. Other sports are running, cycling, swimming and boxing. These sports occur in the designated facilities used for sports: Cruyff Court, Princess Juliana Sports Field, and/or the Gym in St. John’s.
Saba currently only has basic facilities for sports. A few more amenities are beneficial for the further development of physical activity and sports, including a swimming pool, a BMX facility, and a beach volleyball court. Looking into the possibility of having these facilities on Saba is something the Public Entity is dedicated and the aim is to have more research done next year.
For sports in school, the Sports Policy recommends expanding the Be Your Own Icon program and continuing the Balance, Locomotor, and Object Control (BLOC) assessments bi-annually. For the priority to rotate sports seasons, the policy recommends investing in local training and to organize tournaments.
To promote community involvement, the policy recommends creating maintenance plans for every sports facility and incorporating social agreements. The official establishment of the Saba United Sports Federation should improve cohesiveness among the sports organizations.
The intention of the Sports Policy is to be the vision, to create structure and a clear direction to achieve a higher level of sport, and in turn reap the societal benefits that such an investment has on the community’s well-being.