It is no secret that
the benefit of playing sports goes beyond the physical. It can change people’s
mentality, shape the personality of a nation and make connections between
people that border on the level of spiritual.
All of those aspects
have been experienced by Cayman’s residents for years. Now with the country in
a state of transition and crime reaching alarming levels the question now is
why not have prisoners get involved in sports?
To be clear the
current state of Cayman’s prison system is not good. There is no corporal
punishment in these islands and the heaviest judgement is life in prison.
According to an independent report commissioned by the Governor’s office last
year about 40 per cent of Northward prisoners do not participate in any sentence
management programmes, which try to have inmates reach goals like sustained
improvement in mental health and better long-term relationships with family
members and the community at large. Prisoners not in those programmes are
essentially left without a support network when they are released and have a
high likelihood of being a repeat offender.
Sports can help in
the rehabilitation of all inmates as witnessed by the handful of prisoners at
Her Majesty’s Prison already playing football. The prison has had a team of
male guards and prisoners playing indoor football at Kings Sports Centre the
last six years. The squad goes under the name Transformers and has consistently
finished in the top five and nabbed awards for being the most disciplined team.
Sharon Lexa Lamb
serves as the team manager and states the inmates develop character on the
several seasons the team now knows what is expected of them. I can only say
that I am very pleased with the performance of my team to date. The players
have done everything required of them and demonstrated that they have the
ability and the dedication.
“Football is a mental
game as much as a physical one and sports have always been a means of educating
people. The concept works with both kids and adults and our guys have developed
as a team both on and off the pitch. They have the most to prove and they do an
excellent job each game.”
The impact of the
Transformers football team has been positive. Staff at Kings have praised the
side’s demeanour, including Athletic Director Ray Singh.
“Their discipline on
the pitch is far above the norm,” Singh said. “It’s almost comical when these
are the guys setting the bar for the other teams to meet. The work done with
this group has echoed through the team’s conduct and performance at each
Transformers are an example that inmates can peacefully and successfully be
incorporated in sports. If a version of the national sport can host those
members of society then surely there is a real possibility of extending their
involvement to other disciplines. Cayman’s prison system has to rehabilitate
its residents better and sports can help.