To get a doctorate in any subject is quite an achievement. It’s even more special when you get it in your second language.
That is exactly what Dalton Watler, Head of the Department of Youth and Sports has done.
Last month the Colombian public servant went to Hong Kong to receive his doctorate after a three-year slog. He can now proudly say he has a Doctor and Business Administration degree, majoring in Sports Tourism, gained from Warnborough University in England.
Watler’s mother is Colombian and his father Caymanian. He hopes that sports tourism can flourish in Cayman now that the island is fully recovered from the ravages of Hurricane Ivan four years ago and modern sports facilities are sprouting up everywhere thanks to a progressive government.
A beaming Watler said: ‘The Cayman Islands has strong potential for sports tourism. It has the possibility to become one of the Caribbean’s leaders in this area. However, it needs to be in an area where the market is not saturated.
‘For instance, there are a lot of golf tournaments all over the world, but there are not many tennis tournaments, nor sailing or beach volleyball tournaments. So we have to use our landscaping to move forward and combine it with the sports.’
Watler, 48, started off as a PE teacher then got a masters in Recreation and Park Management.
He was born in Colombia and lived there until 20 years ago when he came to Cayman to see what his father’s culture was like. Watler loved it and never left even though he barely knew a word of English at the time.
‘I want to show Caymanians that where there is a will, there’s a way. There are no excuses any more for people to say that they can’t get qualified. If you want to be qualified you have to show that you have the commitment to achieve what you want in life.’
Initially, Watler studied for a PhD but couldn’t handle all the philosophical side of it so switched to a doctorate three years ago. ‘I don’t deal too much with the philosophy, per se, but rather with the knowledge of sport.’
Because his written English was not great he had to rely on people like Carson Ebanks, James Myles, Kimberley Huggins, Janet Nixon and the Carter family to help him write and edit his work.
Watler hopes by getting his doctorate he inspires anyone wanting to get involved in sports who is not necessarily athletic.
‘The sports scope is vast, enormous. You can do Management of Field, Management of Facilities, you can do Sports Science, or be a coach, trainer… many things.’
As a youngster, besides sprinting he was an accomplished basketball player. He also tried his hand at boxing but had to do it secretly because his mother would not approve.
‘In Colombia, people who do boxing are very poor and come from rough areas. She didn’t want me to hang out with boys from rough homes so when she found out, even though I was 16 she beat me!’