Government explores ways to boost sports tourism

(left to right) Director of Sport Dave Connor, Digicel Rep, former WNBA player Deandra Davis, Sharez Laws (Digicel) Honourable Glen Phillip, Coach John Spezia, Wendell Pemberton (Bird Rock Sports Club)

Basseterre, St. Kitts, July 29, 2010 (SKNIS) – Public and private sector officials reviewed ways of strengthening the sports tourism product, and capitalizing on the potential benefits as Government seeks to enhance the Federation’s image in this sector.

Last Thursday, Grassroots Basketball Advisor and Coach John Spezia met with Minister of Tourism Honourable Richard Skerritt, Minister of Education Honourable Nigel Carty and representatives of the Ministry of Sports to highlight the successes of the Reach One, Teach One Basketball Camp. Since the camp began in 2006, ten scholarships have been facilitated for athletes to attend schools in the United States or the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Coach Spezia told the gathering – which included representatives from camp sponsor Digicel, local sports administrators, coaches, athletes and parents – that he was committed to continuing the relationship with the Department of Sports and the Bird Rock Sports Club.

Spezia has been with the camp from inception and has used his post as president of the National Junior College Men’s Basketball Coaches Association to bring American coaches and current and former NBA and WNBA players to work with the local talent.

In November 2009, working in collaboration with the Department of Sports, he arranged for a squad of players from the camp to travel to the United States for a one week exhibition tour of competitive basketball against four colleges.

Coach Spezia explained he would like to see the initiative expand where American schools, including NCAA Division 1 progammes, can tour and train in St. Kitts once an indoor stadium is constructed. Dr. Mark Robinson, a colleague of Coach Spezia, has made a commitment to realize this dream.

Minister of Sports Honourable Glen Phillip told SKNIS that in addition to the construction of a multipurpose, state-of-the-art indoor sporting and cultural complex, which Government will build for local events, a recommendation was made by Dr. Robinson to have a dedicated training facility for basketball erected.

At the opening of the annual camp on Tuesday, Minister Phillip disclosed that Dr. Robinson outlined plans to raise funds in the United States to help build the facility. The Minister of Sports welcomed the pledge and said that while discussions are in the early stages, all options are being considered and Government will review the proposals when completed.

He remarked that these developments will significantly strengthen the Federation’s bid to attract interninternational teams much like the Warner Park and Jubilee stadia have done every year.

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