National athletes promised medical insurance

National athletes who represent the Cayman Islands are being promised medical insurance under a government led by the Cayman Democratic Party (CDP), while the Progressives said they would continue improvements to local sporting infrastructure. The proposals are contained in both parties’ manifestos ahead of the 2017 general elections on Wednesday, 24 May.

The CDP, led by McKeeva Bush, promises to “provide all national athletes with medical insurance benefits during active representation of the country” as well as to provide “financial, educational, and other assistance to our national sports men and women during training and participation in competitions.”

A handful of athletes already receive regular financial support from government to facilitate their sporting pursuits. The CDP also said it will actively seek to secure more scholarships for Cayman athletes at all levels to further their academic education.

Other proposals in the party’s manifesto include a review of the National Sports Policy and Strategic Plan with a view of addressing deficiencies and ensuring the policy and plan are fully implemented.

The CDP said it will promote and enhance the sports policy to ensure it “adequately addresses appropriateness and suitability of sporting facilities, coaches and teachers; and commit the necessary financial resources to make Cayman a regional leader in sports development”.

It said it will ensure the National Sports Council is properly organised and resourced to be effective in its exercise of its mandate. Furthermore, it said it plans to pursue implementation of a programme to train persons in the areas of sports medicine, sports education, sports psychology, physiotherapy, sports nutrition, medical services, proper management of sporting facilities and activities, coaching, athletic welfare, and the funding and promotion of sports tourism.

Meantime, the Progressives, which is seeking a fresh four-year mandate from voters, was vaguer in their manifesto plans regarding sports, which it twinned with youth issues, instead appearing to let its record over the past four years to speak for itself.

Osbourne Bodden has been Sports Minister for the past four years (file).

The party said it plans to promote youth participation in sports, in and outside of school, to encourage good health and teamwork.

The Progressives said it would “ensure that sports fields and facilities are readily available, and maintained for use by our communities”. The party has started work towards this, including various projects across the Cayman Islands spearheaded by Sports Minister Osbourne Bodden including installing walking/running tracks in Bodden Town and North Side, while working to upgrade facilities there.

Mr Bodden has promised to focus on a 50-metre pool in Grand Cayman, which would give the island a facility capable of hosting events like the CARIFTA Swimming Championships.

In Cayman Brac, a new sporting complex has been developed on the Bluff, which has a track and a football field with changing rooms and offices for sports staff. Work to expand the complex is already underway with a swimming pool presently under construction.

Regarding athlete development and support, the Progressives said they plan to “identify and support athletes with potential to attain elite status to ensure that they can reach their full potential, represent Cayman abroad and serve as positive role models to young Caymanians.”

A landmark achievement in sports under the Progressives was the roll out of the Child Abuse Prevention Policy for Sporting Associations earlier this year. “The policy sets a standard for ensuring that reasonable steps are taken to safeguard the physical and emotional well-being of young persons while in a club or association’s care,” said Mr Bodden when the policy was launched.

“Shielding our children from harm and the risk of abuse is both a statutory obligation and one for which all civic-minded persons are jointly accountable. We all share a profound duty of care to act responsibly and with urgency in protecting our children from harm,” he added.

The new John Gray High School Gymnasium was completed and handed over to the school this month. The indoor facility, which came with a price tag of more than $8 million provides indoor space for various sports including basketball and volleyball.

Read the Progressives manifesto here and the Cayman Democratic Party manifesto here.

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