The Minister of Sports in the Cayman Islands feels the government is adequately backing local disciplines.
The Honourable Mark Scotland maintains that in spite of the reduction in funding for local sports, Cayman remains committed to the present and long-term success of the various disciplines, especially the focus sports.
“As Minister for Sports, I can categorically say that this government is fully committed to sports development,” Scotland said. “There are many examples of this support shown by individual ministries and indeed by the significant inter-ministerial collaboration that exists. Examples include government’s support for sports tourism and recently, collaboration on sports scholarships.
“When we look at the benefits derived from sports – including healthy lifestyles, how sports provide structured, organized alternatives that discourage young people from deviant behaviour, also how sports is becoming more and more a way for young people to achieve their education and how sports also contributes to young people becoming good, productive members of their community – and when we consider that this is all being achieved on a fairly small budget allocation from government (some where around 1-2 per cent of the total budget) and also when we consider the successes in sports, particularly in the past three years, I certainly believe the justification is there for the government sports budget to be increased.”
Cayman currently has six focus sports in athletics, basketball, cricket, football, netball and swimming; all of which are administered by local governing bodies. The national sport, football, is getting the most support.
According to the 2012-2013 purchase agreements, which were only recently made available to the Caymanian Compass, government is granting $108,322 to the Cayman Islands Football Association. That figure is a decrease from the $120,358 government budgeted in the 2011-2012 fiscal year.
For track and field, the Cayman Islands Athletics Association is getting $27,804; down from the $30,893 budgeted for the 2011-2012 fiscal year. The purchase agreement specifically states the money is to be used for organizing meets, competing in internationally sanctioned events like the Olympics and participating in competitions like ‘road races/marathon.’
The Cayman Islands Basketball Association earns $78,024 for 2012-2013, down from $86,693 for 2011-2012. The Cayman Islands Cricket Association is also granted $78,024, down from $86,693.
The Cayman Islands Netball Association earns $69,654, down from $77,393 for 2011-2012. The Cayman Islands Amateur Swimming Association, listed in the purchase agreements as the Cayman Islands swimming association, takes in $71,073; down from the $78,970 granted in the 2011-2012 fiscal year.
Interestingly, Scotland states the disciplines listed as focus sports are subject to change.
“We are undertaking an exercise to prepare a Strategic Sports Policy for the country. As a part of this exercise, we will review the criteria that are used to determine which sports qualify to be focus sports – criteria such as level of participation, including age groups that participate, status of development plans for the sports and potential for high-level performance, both locally as well as regionally and internationally.”
A number of disciplines have made steps to be considered focus sports. Volleyball, for example, has sent local teams to compete abroad and hosted international tournaments, with the latest being a world championship qualifier in North Side.
Scotland states the sports that could see a rise in stature are boxing and rugby.
“With boxing, it has grown in the last few years with persons in the target audience. I’d like to see the youngsters get involved with that and what it does for them. I think we have an excellent facility, excellent coaching there now and seeing the numbers that have grown over the years, shouldn’t boxing be a focus sport?
“Other sports as well you can consider. Rugby is doing very well lately as well. It’s about looking at what should really be a focus sport and looking at the other ones that government should focus our support on.”
Interestingly, boxing and rugby enjoy varying levels of government support. On one hand, the Cayman Islands Boxing Association earns $86,400, a dramatic increase from the $62,299 budgeted for the 2011-2012 fiscal year. On the other hand, the Cayman Rugby Football Union, listed as the Cayman Islands rugby club/union, takes in $27,804, down from $30,893 given in the last budget.