Health Minister Marcella Liburd tells young females to go after sports scholarships and physical activity reduces chronic diseases

BASSETERRE,ST. KITTS, AUGUST 13TH 2012 (CUOPM)- St. Kitts and Nevis’ Minister of Health, Hon. Marcella Liburd says that involvement in sports can reduce the incidence of chronic diseases and bring changes inlifestyle.

She also told participants who were over 18 years old attending a three-day FIFA Women’s Com-Unity Seminar, that post-secondary education is becoming increasingly important all over the world and it is also becoming increasingly expensive.

St. Kitts and Nevis’ Minister of Health with participants and local and FIFA football officials (Photo courtesy of FIFA.com

“Scholarships,therefore, represent an important and valuable path to this goal. The development of women’s football presents young women with another opportunity to further their education while at thesame time improve and master their skills and techniques in the game. They say opportunity knocks but once. Seize the moment,” she said.

The health minister noted that obesity, diabetes,and hypertension are wreaking havoc throughout the Caribbean and urged the St.Kitts-Nevis Football Association to get women more involved in the sport that canhave a big impact on the efforts to fight these deadly and entirely avoidable diseases.

“It can bring about themuch needed changes in lifestyle – diet, physical activity, mental and emotional wellness that can reduce the incidence of these chronic diseases. It also provides an opportunity to address health issues like HIV/AIDS, breast and cervical cancer and promote preventative measures like mammograms, pap smears and contraceptives,” Minister Liburd told the 50 plus participants.

She said the seminar provides a platform for dealing with issues like teen-age pregnancy, balancing family life, work and football and an opportunity to steer the young women in a different more positive direction.

“And so, thedevelopment of women’s football to the extent that it promotes more active lifestyles and provides greater awareness and hope for the girls and women of thiscountry, we would, indeed, owe FIFA and St. Kitts Nevis Football Association a debtof gratitude,” Minister Liburd said.

She said life these daysis so very hectic, whether one lives in Singapore, Sudan,Switzerland, Jamaica,Barbados, Dominica or in St. Kitts and Nevis.

“Too much to do. Toolittle time. Ironically it seems that more and more “time-saving” gadgets bring on more and more stress. This stress factor, as well as the use and abuse of illegal drugs and alcohol, accounts inlarge measure for the fact that depression is becoming a major problem especially among young people – all around the world,” said Minister Liburd.

She pointed out thatthe medicines that the large drug companies have developed for depression are sometimes medications that are really needed.

“But we also know -those of us who are athletes – that physical exercise can do wonders to lift the spirits and bring a sense of hope and energy in the early stages of sadness and despair, because of the release of activity-related endorphins that are so keyto a sense of psychological and emotional well-being and happiness. Physical activity, then, is Nature’s specialand priceless medicine, and so I commend the Football Association for its verydetailed plan to expose the girls and women of this country to this truth,”Minister Liburd, a former netballer said.

She said that the Football Association’s decision to make women’s football a better organized and more formidable force in St. Kitts-Nevis and the Caribbean is so important as women over the past two or three decades have been wasting no time in entering fields that were previously closed to them.

“Academically, we are studying everything that the males have traditionally studied from engineering to nuclear energy. We are business executives and Ministers of Government. We now have for the first time a female Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court. Soon we will have our first female president of the St. Kitts-Nevis Football Association. In the workforce, we are doing everything that the males do. We are on the construction sites and in the military. And so, in every field and inevery way, we are with the males, neck and neck,” pointed out the Minister ofHealth.

She further pointed outthat the doors of football that were previously closed to women and girls are being widely opened and commended FIFA and the St. Kitts-Nevis Football Association for striving for equality in the football arena.

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