Government is CARIFTA 2019 title sponsor

LOC co-chairs Joel Francis and Lance Barnes sign the MOU with NACAC President Victor Lopez, while the Sports Minister and Councillor Wight look on.

When the Caribbean’s top junior track and field stars converge here next April, they’ll be doing so for the 2019 Cayman Islands CARIFTA Track and Field Championships, after government secured title sponsorship for the premier youth athletics showcase in the region.

“This is our Olympics in the Caribbean – CARIFTA,” said Sports Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly. “Government stands behind this commitment we [made] when we formally made the commitment that CARIFTA would be held within our jurisdiction, but they say you put your money where your mouth is.”

She was speaking at a press conference on 12 October to mark the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding by the local organising committee and the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC), which is parent to the games to be held over the Easter Weekend (20-22 April).

CARIFTA 2019 LOC co-chair Joel Francis said the estimated cost of hosting the championships featuring athletes from across the Caribbean was $1.4 million, with government contributing $200,000 so far.

“The government has given a significant commitment and we hope to be able to declare that figure in the near future. This commitment and level of enhancement to the facilities has caused NACAC to agree to allow the Cayman Islands Government to be the naming sponsors of the event,” Francis said.

The Sports Minister said she would be calling a separate press conference to address government’s cash injection into the event. Meantime, Francis said they were hoping to raise around $400,000 from the local private sector in sponsorship.

Design for the new track at Truman Bodden Sports Complex. Relay changeover zones will be highlighted in a light grey, making it easier for athletes and for judges to recognise infractions.

Among the upgrades being done to Truman Bodden Sports Complex is the installation of a new track. “The [existing] track was laid just after Hurricane Ivan, so it is nearing the end of its useful life,” Francis explained, adding that the goal was to have this completed by December to limit the impact on local athletes’ preparations for CARIFTA and the smooth flow of the domestic track and field season that begins in July.

Other enhancements include a new warm-up area near the netball courts, improved lighting, additional storage for equipment, and large video screen inside the stadium.

“The government has realised that we need to do an uplift in terms of our facility. It’s events like this that bring sports to the forefront, where we can have the opportunity…that as we go and bid for these international competitions, we can ensure that there are  proper facilities,” Minister O’Connor-Connolly stated.

This will be the third time that the Cayman Islands has hosted the CARIFTA Games after doing so in 1995 and 2010.

“We have long awaited to again share with the rest of the region not only our athleticism but our true Caymanian hospitality, as we host athletes, officials and spectators from near and far,” said President of the Cayman Islands Athletic Association and co-chair of the LOC, Lance Barnes.

“We look forward to moving forward with great enthusiasm in bringing together sportsmen and women to showcase the Caribbean’s efforts in enhancing regional unity through sports.”

CaymanSportsBuzz.com will have more on preparations for CARIFTA in a subsequent story.

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