CARIFTA deserves local support

Athletes and spectators from around
the Caribbean will gather in Grand Cayman on April 3-5 to celebrate the 2010

It is an annual junior athletics
competition sponsored by the Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA).

The Cayman Islands first competed
in the CARIFTA Games in 1979 in Jamaica and hosted the Games once before in

As the hosts the Cayman Islands
will welcome over 500 athletes from 25 English, Dutch and French speaking

The CARIFTA Games has traditionally
served as a testing ground for many of the Caribbean’s greatest athletes
including Usain Bolt and Merlene Ottey of Jamaica, Obadele Thompson of
Barbados, and Cayman’s own Cydonie Mothersill, Kareem Streete-Thompson, and Ronald

The experience such athletes gain
through competition at the CARIFTA Games is invaluable, as over 30 Olympic
Games medallists can trace their origins back to these championships.

The CARIFTA Games is arguably the
most important regional junior athletic competition outside of the World Youth
or World Junior Championships.

In addition, the International
Amateur Athletics Federation has recognised the CARIFTA Games as a qualifying
meet for the first ever World Youth Olympics, which takes place in Singapore in

Scouts and coaches from the United
States attend the CARIFTA Games each year to identify top talent for recruitment
to their colleges and universities athletic programmes.

For the athletes competing on home
soil, the Games also present an opportunity for Cayman’s next generation of
stars to shine and serve as a springboard for the youngsters to enter onto the
world stage.

In their quest for excellence, Cayman’s
local athletes make extreme sacrifices, adhering to a gruelling training
regimen to achieve their personal best.

The entire Cayman Islands community
is being called upon to cheer on Cayman’s future athletic stars from the stands
as they pursue their dreams and a spot on the podium.

The Games promote a holistic
lifestyle, encouraging youngsters to develop their bodies as well as their
minds and afford them the opportunity to share in a cultural exchange as they
forge lifelong friendships and rivalries – building relationships with athletes
from across the region.

The Cayman team has brought home
CARIFTA medals every year since 2000.

Hosting the CARIFTA Games speaks
volumes of the confidence that the international bodies governing sports have
in Cayman’s capacity as a major sports tourism destination.

With sports tourism generating over
$600 billion dollars annually it is one of the fastest growing travel sectors
internationally and it is anticipated that the success of CARIFTA will lead to
an increased and heightened focus locally on the benefits of sports tourism.

Through the hard work and
dedication of the Cayman Islands Olympic Committee, local volunteers and the
Government, the CARIFTA Games is sure to be among the best value for money
events this year, and is expected to generate more than $500,000 into the
economy over the Easter period.

The Cayman Islands Government has
always supported local athletic development through the Department of Sports
and the Cayman Islands Athletic Association and is today the single largest sponsor
of the 2010 CARIFTA Games.

First held in Bridgetown Barbados
in 1972 the Games consist of track and field events including sprint races,
hurdles, middle distance track events, jumping and throwing events and relays.

The event has two age categories
for boys and girls, Under 17 and Under 20, and is normally conducted each year
during the Easter weekend to facilitate the school calendar.

Each country may enter up to two
athletes per event and up to six athletes may be entered for relay events, with
two acting as substitutes. Up to three athletes may be entered in the combined
events of pentathlon and heptathlon.

The 2010 CARIFTA Games are
sponsored by Cayman Utilities Company, Tortuga, Cayman National Bank, Sagicor
General, Miracle Brokers, Cayman Airways, Butterfield Bank, Paramount,
Caledonian, Water Authority, Scotia Bank, and First Caribbean.

The Cayman Islands Government, the
Cayman Islands Olympic Committee, the IAAF, the NACAC, the Cayman Islands Athletic
Association, LIME, Guardian Holdings, the National Gas Company of Trinidad and
Tobago, and the Caymanian Compass have also partnered to make the 2010 CARIFTA
Games a success.