Over the past year, the Department of Sport within the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports (MECYS) and its executive arm, the National Sports Institute (NSI) has been working diligently on developing the Sint Maarten Sports Facilities policy, focused on the management and maintenance of all Government-owned sports facilities. On October 15th, 2021, the policy was finalized and published in the National Gazette.
The Sports Facilities policy aims to develop and maintain adequate sports facilities and recognize public sports spaces as a prerequisite for stimulating participation in physical education, sports, and recreation. With most facilities being severely damaged by Hurricane Irma in 2017, the sports facilities have been challenged, highlighting the need for the establishment of policy to guide decisions and improve the user experience of the sports facilities.
Through the Sports Facilities Policy, direction and coherence are provided on the usage, quality, and quantity of sports facilities and public sporting spaces in order to facilitate access to safe and enjoyable sporting facilities for national team building, hosting of national and international competitions, sports tourism and all residents active in sports.
Trends in sport participation due to societal changes and facility usage have been observed to provide information and context for policy development. Trends in the sporting environment were identified in order to align government objectives or represent specific problems and opportunities. The policy has been subsequently made to exploit these opportunities or to minimize their negative effects.
The policy outlines thirteen (13) sports facilities development goals that have been created to systematically implement the Sports Facilities Policy, the development goals are:
• Reduce risk and unfavorable situations at the sports facilities;
• Prioritize access to sports facilities in a fair manner, providing preference to users of higher importance;
• Stimulate National Team development;
• Ensure special seating for VIP’s during national events;
• Ensure equitable and affordable facility rental charges to all sport users;
• Secure additional funding through offering interior and exterior advertising space at facilities;
• Ensure sufficient parking space to all users;
• Ensure a safe facility user experience for all for all (safety perspective);
• Facilitate access to safe and enjoyable sporting facilities for all (maintenance perspective);
• Adequate facilities are established in a sustainable and resilient manner;
• Play an essential role via sports in the development of sustainable solutions;
• Integrate sports spaces into spatial planning to stimulate social cohesion and inclusion and make our communities stronger, healthier, and happier;
• Activate public spaces for sports purposes increasing participation and access to sports.
The National Sports Institute, the executive arm for sports, is annually subsidized and mandated with the management and maintenance of all Government-owned sports facilities, therefore the Foundation will be responsible in collaboration with the Department of Sports for the execution of the Policy.