Basseterre, St. Kitts (SKNIS): Jerellius Louis of the Washington Archibald High School and Jahnaza Francis of the Charles E. Mills Secondary School (CEMSS) were recognized as the Sportsmen of the Year, while Trishanie Warner, also of CEMSS, as the Sportswoman of the Year at the 2nd Annual Department of Sports Excellence Awards ceremony held at Government House on Wednesday (July 12).
The event, which recognized top performances from the 2016-17 sports year, saw awards in more than 30 categories being presented to student athletes from various primary, secondary and tertiary institutions that participated in the department's organized competitions. Also awarded were staff from various schools, sporting officials, department personnel and business entities that supported the department.
"We recognize that sport is a powerful means of enhancing values and attitudes," Director of Sports, Anthony Wiltshire said, while giving remarks at the ceremony. "This is again exemplified by several of our prominent citizens today. We will all agree that sport is not only a medium for financial success but also healthy living."
As such, Mr. Wiltshire said that the Department of Sports will continue to assist athletes to access opportunities and pursue their goals, which can be achieved through hard work and perseverance.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Sports, Stanley Knight, congratulated the department staff for organizing the event. He quoted the theme for the awards ceremony; "Making a Difference through Sports" and cited the example set by American Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos who gave the "black power" salute while on the medal podium of the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. Mr. Knight said that the athletes were criticized and ostracized in their own country for their actions after the Olympics ended but noted that the scene has become an enduring image and remains a universal figure for the fight for equality around the world.
"It is my firm belief that the proceedings of this event (the 2017 awards ceremony) should not only recognize our contribution but also challenge us to create significant change in our federation, in our communities, amongst our friends and even in our own lives," he stated. "Our participation in sport affords us the opportunity to lead healthy lives and also to positively affect the lives of the people around us."
Noting the current challenges with young persons who get caught up in antisocial activities, Mr. Knight said that "these are critical times for us in St. Kitts and Nevis" and advised individuals to "be the change that they seek."
"If we are to make a difference through sport, we must each take personal responsibility to be that man or that woman in the mirror. ... I encourage us all to make a decision to live up to this evening's theme by a making a difference in the lives of our community by constantly working at being excellent. May we be the drivers of the vehicle of change as we grow from strength to strength in the Department of Sports," Mr. Knight concluded.
Some of the big winners of the night were: the Dr. William Connor Primary School as school of the year and its principal Valencia Syder as Most Supportive Principal. On the secondary level, the Charles E. Mills Secondary School was adjudged the High School of the Year in its respective category while Principal Roger Woodley of the Verchilds High School earned marks for being the Most Supportive Principal.
Two students of the Washington Archibald High School, Jerellius Louis and Namibia Clavier, respectively were the top male and female athletes in the Academics Athletics category. The Business Entities Awards went to School Meals, S. L. Horsfords and Co. Ltd, St. Kitts-Nevis Red Cross, Parks and Beaches, Electrofab St. Kitts Ltd., and Carib Crafts and Graphics.