Despite the inclement winter weather last Saturday evening, the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Committee of New York, Inc. says more than 30 nationals “attended and fully participated” in a special meeting of Vincentian sports personalities, sports organizations and sports fans at the Friends of Crown Heights Educational Center in Brooklyn.
“This meeting was a huge success in several ways,” Maxwell Haywood, the group’s chairman, told Caribbean Life in an exclusive interview afterwards, stating that, among other things, a Steering Committee was established “to lead the process toward the creation of a Vincentian sports association in the U.S.A.”
“The quality of the participants at the meeting means well for the future of this initiative,” added Haywood, who is also a United Nations Development officer. “The meeting marks a turning point in Diaspora Affairs in the sense that it marks the unfolding of the Diaspora Committee’s policy to promote and build Vincentian Diaspora institutions in the U.S.A. and in SVG (St. Vincent and the Grenadines).”
Haywood said this policy includes building Diaspora institutions in the U.S., such as a sports association, a business chamber, a cultural arts association, and the creation of a Vincentian center in New York, among others.
“We will soon be at a level where we are in a much better position in the Vincentian Diaspora to highlight and promote the sports achievements and also the sports needs, priorities, policies and projects of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the Vincentian Diaspora,” he said.
Haywood said the meeting “signaled the need to unite the diverse SVG Diaspora organizations and sports persons active in the area of sports, which will help us to promote the economic and social development potential of sports in our Diaspora and in SVG.
“The meeting was a good one because it will strengthen the process in which we will identify and highlight sports opportunities in terms of sports scholarships and sports events that Vincentian athletes can fully participate in and gain financial rewards and, at the same time, fly the flag of SVG,” he said.
Haywood also said the meeting served as a “jump-off point to begin to raise awareness about sports issues relevant to Vincentian sports persons and organizations in the Diaspora and in SVG.”
Samuel “Kala” Gordon, the group’s coordinator of the Sub-Committee on Sports, said “despite the messy weather, we had a fairly good turn-out,” adding that the meeting was an “excellent representation of the various sports that Vincentians in the Diaspora are engaged in.
“The participants were excited and very much in favor of forming an Association of Sports people here in New York,” the former local school teacher said.
“We had a record number of persons volunteering to serve in various areas,” he added, stating that newly-appointed Sports Ambassador Stanley “Luxy” Morris “did a fine job by outlining areas that he wants to see tackled and committed himself to work along with others.
“All in all the meeting was a great one,” Gordon continued. “Things are looking up for us here in the Diaspora.”
Former national netball star Gailene Windsor described the meeting as “one of a very positive nature.”
“Vincentians living in the Diaspora appear very united in working to achieving their goals in bringing sports people together, whether past or present, in their effort to building a Sports and Cultural Center,” said Windsor, who is also a member of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Committee of New York, Inc.
Haywood said the sports initiative is a “vital component of the development policy of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Committee of New York, Inc. – a policy which seeks to build Vincentian Diaspora institutions in the U.S.A.”
He said the creation a 15-member Steering Committee, which will work towards the establishment of a Vincentian Diaspora Sports Association in the U.S.A., was a “major outcome of the meeting.”
Besides Haywood, Windsor and Morris, members of the Steering Committee include former national netball captain Stella Boyea-Ashby; national netball star Stefferny Boyce-Herbert; former national table tennis star David “Skies” Llewellyn; Atiba Williams; Damani Thomas; Artis Nicholls; Gary “Tunker” Edwards; Allyson Seales; Brendon Sutherland; Ronald Bailey; Dennika Peters; and Toni Johnson.
Haywood said meeting participants represented various sporting disciplines, such as soccer, cricket, netball, track and field, tennis, and basketball. They also represented sports administration and the “sports component” of the media.
In a message to participants, Sports, Culture and Tourism Minister Cecil “Ces” McKie said he was delighted to see the Diaspora Committee convening a meeting “to advance the sports agenda in the Diaspora first, but obviously with impact on the homeland, SVG.”
Morris, who received a certificate of recognition for his appointment as Sports Ambassador by the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, said he plans to honor and pay tribute to past soccer players, as well as those who contributed to cricket, netball and track and field.
Additionally, Morris said, among other things, that he would like to see the establishment of a “Soccerama” tournament and a Windward Islands sports tournament in the U.S.
Haywood said the Steering Committee will meet in February “to continue the process in a definite way to create the Vincentian sports association in the U.S.A.”