During Honouring Women’s Month which is celebrated in March the Department of Sports is highlighting the accomplishments of women athletes or administrators who assisted in the development of sports in these islands.
Those selected are Angela Sealey (bodybuilder), Evelyn Rockett (Cayman’s first physical education teacher, athlete and administrator), Lucille Seymour first woman Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Sports), Cherry Whittaker (instrumental in starting the first CIFA sanction Women’s Football League), Edna Moyle (First woman Minster of Sports), Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, Deputy Premier and Minster of District Administration, Works, Lands and Agriculture (first dedicated physical education teacher in Cayman Brac).
Department of Sports Women’s Coordinator Merta Day said: “It is important that we remember the contributions that these women have made and I hope we can all take time during this month to pay tribute to them.”
Angela Sealey is a world renowned bodybuilder whose generosity of spirit and guidance has helped many women to achieve their fitness goals. Sealey, the Chief Executive Officer of CAYS Foundation, credits sport as one of the tools of her success.
She holds both bachelors and masters degrees in social work and a masters degree in business administration, along with a certificate in nutrition and personal training. Her sporting achievements are equally impressive, having won titles in bodybuilding for Ms Barbados and won for Cayman Islands at the CAC Championships and obtained her professional status. She placed fourth among the top 10 female bodybuilders in the world.
“I am proud to say ‘I did it my way’,” she declares. “Sports, and bodybuilding in particular, are about leading a healthy lifestyle. The self-confidence you get from being a bodybuilder can extend to other aspects of your life and make you a more successful person overall.”
From a young age Sealy, 51, had an interest in sport, which was supported by her parents Gloria and Arthur Sealey. She participated in dance and gymnastics and then moved on to track and field. “I enjoy sports and have had the opportunity to participate in many and at very competitive levels,” she says. Bodybuilding is her favourite. “Bodybuilding is the best way to increase your strength and improve your health. Exercise puts you on a natural high all day.”
Sealey was at first sceptical about bodybuilding, because she didn’t believe that women had the ability to build muscles. “So I decided to begin lifting weights and the next thing I knew I was on the stage as a competitor. This is now a way of life for me.
“After I started lifting weights, I just became addicted to the changes my body was making. My interest has been sustained by the fact that I always feel good, and it is a very good way to reduce stress. Over the years, I have found bodybuilding to be a great avenue for building self-confidence. I feel healthy and look great. There is no better feeling when you exercise regularly. You feel empowered to take on the world.”
Sealey encourages parents to get their girls involved in sport, because it is fundamental to early development. “Skills learnt during play, physical education and sport contribute to the holistic development of young people. Through participation in sport, young people learn about the importance of key values such as honesty, teamwork, fair play, respect for themselves and others, and adherence to rules.”
She pointed to the overwhelming amount of evidence that focuses on the mostly positive effects of sport and exercise on physical health, growth and development. “Regular participation in sports is associated with a longer and better quality of life, reduced risk of a variety of diseases many psychological and emotional benefits.”
Sealey supports the idea of Honouring Women’s Month. “So often women are merely a first name on a pedigree chart and sometimes no name at all. But does that mean their contribution to society is any less?
“Regardless of the fact that the male-dominated history books skip over women, they have played important roles in the home, in business and in the community. It is important that we remember the contributions that women have made to our family tree and to our county. It is therefore important to pay tribute to them. Without them, you would not be here.”