AMBASSADOR IRWIN LAROCQUE
SIGNING CEREMONY OF
THE MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING BETWEEN THE FéDéRATION INTERNATIONALE DE
FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION (FIFA) AND
THE CARIBBEAN COMMUNITY (CARICOM)
31 MAY 2021
- Mr. Gianni Infantino, President of the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA);
- Mr. Victor Montagliani, President of CONCACAF;
- Representatives of CARICOM Member States
- Representatives of the National Football Federations in CARICOM;
- Dr. Douglas Slater, Assistant Secretary-General, Human and Social Development and other Members of Staff of the CARICOM Secretariat;
- Ladies and Gentlemen.
It is a real pleasure for me to be signing this Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
This Ceremony today has its genesis in 2017, when Mr Infantino paid a courtesy call on me here at the Secretariat headquarters in Guyana. We agreed then, that our objective was to work together to promote football in the Region as a sport and as an avenue to channel the energies of our youth in a positive direction.
Among the objectives of this MOU, therefore, is to create a framework for strengthening and further developing synergies, and collaboration between the signatories on the development of football in the Member States of CARICOM.
Further, there will be institutional support for the strengthening of a football program for the physical education curricula in primary schools within the CARICOM Region.
The MOU seeks, among other things, to develop and train our physical education teachers in football coaching and management, through FIFA Member Associations in CARICOM.
We believe it will add value to and build on previous work undertaken by CARICOM, namely, the Reducing Youth on Youth Violence in Schools and Communities Project funded by the Government of Spain, and the Youth Empowerment through Sports (YES) Project funded by USAID.
These Projects used sports as a means of providing teaching experiences, coaching, empowering and leadership training.
This is in keeping with our regional endorsement of sport as a development tool to promote positive ideals in individuals, especially as it relates to the inculcation of healthy lifestyles, positive use of leisure time, development of tolerance and the promotion of peace.
The universal popularity of football gives it a unique position to play its part in assisting in that regard.
The 2010 CARICOM Commission for Youth Development Report indicated that attention to sports as a socio-cultural and developmental agent contributed significantly to national development.
It is for this reason that our Community, through that Report and the Port-of-Spain Declaration on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), encouraged governments to make a special allocation of resources for the provision of sports facilities and programmes, and to enhance capacity for executing the programmes.
This CARICOM-FIFA initiative is in keeping with the Doha Declaration and the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, which identifies sports as a critical element for providing positive experiences and supporting healthy development in young people.
Research has demonstrated a strong correlation between youth participation in competitive sports programmes and healthy eating, lower weight and a reduction in antisocial behaviours.
Participation in recreational and competitive sports can foster skills of resilience and determination in children and youth. Thus, there is a critical role to be played by parents, caregivers and teachers to support an increase in physical activity to help to reduce feelings of incompetence, rejection, isolation and a low self-esteem.
There is no doubt that sport provides an avenue for socialisation, social control and character development.
We recognise that these factors will unleash Caribbean potential, as well as positively influence earning power and employment among Caribbean youth.
Notably, many of our sportsmen and women have excelled on the world stage. A prime example is Usain Bolt, who is regarded as the greatest sprinter of all time and who has more than a passing interest in football! Further, our Member States, Haiti, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago have participated in the FIFA Men’s World Cup Finals, while Jamaica has taken part in a FIFA Women’s World Cup Finals.
Many of our footballers have earned fame and sometimes fortune playing in the professional football leagues around the world.
The Caribbean Community remains true to our commitment to continue to support and increase engagements with partners like FIFA, to enhance sports programmes and positively impact the lives of the youth within the Region.
I believe that this Memorandum of Understanding with FIFA will help in achieving that goal.
Once again, I want to thank Mr. Infantino for his visit to the Secretariat which, along with extensive follow-up discussions, has led us to this day. It has resulted in the Secretariat and FIFA coming together to put forward a programme of undoubted benefit to the youth of our Region.
I thank you.