Sport Matters

Sport Matters

Sport Matters
Faculty of Sport in collaboration with The Trinidad & Tobago Guardian
Fresh off the Starting Block!


Be­gin­ning to­day, mem­bers of The Uni­ver­si­ty of the West In­dies’ Fac­ul­ty of Sport, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Guardian Me­dia’s Sports Desk, will be­gin a dis­cus­sion on sport­ing mat­ters through­out the cam­pus­es and as they af­fect the re­gion. To­day, Dr Ak­shai Mans­ingh, Dean of the Sport Fac­ul­ty, starts off the con­ver­sa­tion.

On Au­gust 1, 2017, the Uni­ver­si­ty of the West In­dies es­tab­lished the Fac­ul­ty of Sport, its newest fac­ul­ty in over 40 years, to un­der­score the new think­ing at the in­sti­tu­tion about the im­por­tance of sport and sport stud­ies in the 21st cen­tu­ry. The Vice Chan­cel­lor, Sir Hi­lary Beck­les, pro­claimed that nev­er again should an ath­lete have to choose be­tween aca­d­e­mics and the pur­suit of sport as a pro­fes­sion. The new fac­ul­ty un­der­stands the need for seam­less syn­er­gies be­tween those who play sport and those who play at sport.

The Fac­ul­ty of Sport is unique with­in The UWI struc­ture. It is a cross-cam­pus fac­ul­ty, with a sin­gle dean who is an­swer­able to each cam­pus Prin­ci­pal and the Vice Chan­cel­lor. The fac­ul­ty is rep­re­sent­ed on each of its four cam­pus­es by an Acad­e­my of Sport un­der a head. Its ar­eas of fo­cus are Aca­d­e­mics and Re­search, Sport­ing Ac­tiv­i­ties and Com­mu­ni­ty Out­reach and Sport and Ex­er­cise Med­i­cine.

Aca­d­e­m­ic Pro­grammes and Re­search

What is go­ing to dis­tin­guish the new fac­ul­ty is the qual­i­ty of its aca­d­e­m­ic pro­grammes and how those pro­grammes ac­cen­tu­ate the qual­i­ty of the sport pro­fes­sion­als who emerge from the re­gion. We start­ed with BSc pro­grammes in Sport Coach­ing, Sport Ki­net­ics, Sport Sci­ences and Sport Man­age­ment and Lead­er­ship be­cause we see these as be­ing im­me­di­ate­ly crit­i­cal to the de­vel­op­ment of sport in the re­gion. At the MSc lev­el, there are pro­grammes in Sport Sci­ences, Sport Med­i­cine, In­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary Pain Man­age­ment in Sport, Sport Coach­ing, Ki­net­ics, Strength and Con­di­tion­ing, Bio­me­chan­ics and Sport Busi­ness Man­age­ment. There are al­so re­search pro­grammes at the MPhil and PhD lev­els.

Sport can­not func­tion in si­los. Con­se­quent­ly, we are de­vel­op­ing in­ter­con­nect­ed pro­grammes such as Sport Jour­nal­ism and Sport Law and Gov­er­nance to un­der­score the in­ter­de­pen­den­cy be­tween sport and oth­er dis­ci­plines. The Fac­ul­ty of Sport is al­so com­mit­ted to a sym­bi­ot­ic re­la­tion­ship be­tween it and sport­ing bod­ies to en­hance a col­lab­o­ra­tive ap­proach to the de­vel­op­ment of sport in the re­gion. For ob­vi­ous rea­sons, our first ma­jor col­lab­o­ra­tion will be with Crick­et West In­dies, with whom we are work­ing to cer­ti­fy crick­et coach­es to en­sure qual­i­ty and con­sis­ten­cy.

Bear­ing in mind that sport strikes a chord with many dis­en­gaged youth, we are de­sign­ing Con­tin­u­ing Pro­fes­sion­al De­vel­op­ment pro­grammes that will ap­peal to those of them who may be drawn to sport but not to sport stud­ies be­cause of some per­ceived aca­d­e­m­ic lim­i­ta­tions. For ex­am­ple, Maths for Sport is de­signed to cap­ture the imag­i­na­tion of sport lovers who are afraid of Maths by us­ing sport­ing ex­am­ples and con­cepts that they may be fa­mil­iar with but do not ap­pre­ci­ate as in­her­ent­ly math­e­mat­i­cal. Sim­i­lar­ly, we are com­mit­ted to cor­rect­ing the dearth of lo­cal re­search on sport and on our ath­letes, a fac­tor which has meant that our sport poli­cies and prac­tices are, more of­ten than not, in­spired by for­eign da­ta.

Sporting Activities

Al­though the Fac­ul­ty of Sport is new, the truth is that the UWI has al­ways been an ac­tive play­er in the growth and de­vel­op­ment of sport in the re­gion. We have en­cour­aged our stu­dents to par­tic­i­pate in sport through over 150 sport schol­ar­ships across all cam­pus­es. The Com­bined Cam­pus­es and Col­leges Crick­et team is the cur­rent Re­gion­al One Day Cham­pi­on. The UWI teams are the cham­pi­ons of the top crick­et leagues in Bar­ba­dos and Ja­maica. In both coun­tries, the foot­ball teams are in the Pre­mier League with UWI be­ing cham­pi­ons in Bar­ba­dos. The UWI fe­male crick­eters in Trinidad and To­ba­go are cham­pi­ons. Like­wise, the net­ball, vol­ley­ball, hock­ey teams have dis­tin­guished them­selves across the re­gion and our track and field ath­letes are among the best in the world. Fredric Dacres, of Mona, had the lead­ing dis­tance for the year in dis­cus and was named Sports­man of the Year in Ja­maica.

The UWI cam­pus­es have some of the best fa­cil­i­ties in the re­gion. We en­vis­age teams from with­in and with­out the UWI train­ing at these fa­cil­i­ties. While this is hap­pen­ing, stu­dents from Sport Coach­ing will help for­mu­late pro­grammes, Sport Ki­net­ics will mea­sure ath­let­ic pa­ra­me­ters, Sport Nu­tri­tion will guide stu­dents and Sport Jour­nal­ism will pro­mote pro­grammes in an ecosys­tem that is ben­e­fi­cial to all par­tic­i­pants.

Community Outreach

The UWI is com­mit­ted to serv­ing the un­der­served and the un­der­priv­i­leged. In con­so­nance with this mis­sion, we have em­barked on a Com­mu­ni­ty In­clu­sion Project with the Caribbean De­vel­op­ment Bank. The pi­lot pro­grammes suc­cess­ful­ly took place in the Au­gust Town Com­mu­ni­ty in Ja­maica and the Cane Farm Com­mu­ni­ty in Trinidad and To­ba­go. Chil­dren were brought in and ex­posed to the val­ues and virtues of sport, ethics and vo­ca­tion­al op­por­tu­ni­ties while in­ter­act­ing and play­ing with some of the top ath­letes of each coun­try. This and oth­er projects will be ex­pand­ed through­out the re­gion as we con­tin­ue to pro­mote sport as a means to en­gage and ed­u­cate across all ages, gen­der, so­cioe­co­nom­ic sta­tus and eth­nic groups.

In Sport Mat­ters, we will be join­ing our voic­es to oth­ers on all sport re­lat­ed mat­ters, with a view to demon­strat­ing that sport mat­ters to the de­vel­op­ment of the re­gion. We thank the Trinidad Guardian for this op­por­tu­ni­ty.

UWI SPEC, St Augustine, one of the crown jewels in the Faculty of Sport’s programme. © Frederick Dubray

Initially published on August 5th, 2019 by The Trinidad & Tobago Guardian: