Find out more about Caribbean Coaching
How we began, what we’ve achieved and what we are working towards
Caribbean Coaching has been working to help develop sport in St Lucia since 2011. We are still a small organisation, run by the same people who started it all off.
We are passionate about helping others and feel sport is a fantastic vehicle for change. Since our focus on rugby, we have grown and developed to now offer our volunteers a wide range of programs and opportunities. Below, we’ve put together a brief history of how we started and grew.
We are invited to St Lucia to help coach the national rugby teams in preparation for a few upcoming tournaments. Before travelling we ran a huge kit collection appeal and were able to bring over dozens of boots and balls, playing tops, cones, tackle pads and other training equipment.
We begin our work with the St Lucia national teams for a few weeks. In October they travel to Barbados for the international 7s tournament. It is a great success and St Lucia men and women recorded their best result to date at the NACRA 7s. A few weeks later the men come 3rd at the Coca Cola 10s in Martinique.
The first youth rugby teams are formed in St Lucia. Up until now, the game has only been played by the national team. With our donated equipment we begin coaching session are run in a number of schools and local communities across St Lucia. This is a huge success and we have hundreds of children involved in rugby for the first time.
We wanted to hold an event that all of our new young players could be involved in. So in December, we organised the first-ever youth rugby tournament. Teams from all over the country take part, as well as an exhibition game by the senior players. This event is covered by national tv and the press and helps to put a spotlight on the game of rugby.
Caribbean Coaching was created. We wanted a way to continue the development of rugby in St Lucia, and we felt the best way to do this was to bring over volunteers and equipment throughout the year.
We ran two projects in 2012, both based in the south of the country. There no rugby whatsoever in the south ad new wanted to replicate the success we’d had in Castries. We established a number of new community youth teams, as well as running sessions in three schools.
One of the most significant achievements was the formation of Labrie RFC, a senior team in the South. This allowed us to organise the first-ever North vs South match, where the national team played Laborie (and our coaches). Narrowly defeated, the majority of Laborie’s players went on to represent St Lucia.
With all of the additional senior players now involved, St Lucia also hosted a 7s tournament. There were two teams from St Lucia, two from Trinidad and a team from St Vincent. This was another opportunity for our volunteer coaches to play, and St Lucia A came second, missing out to a strong side from Trinidad.
In November we organised the second annual youth rugby tournament, with all of our newly formed teams taking place. This was an even larger event then in 2011 and another huge step forward for rugby.
This year we spend the summer in St Lucia and begin to expand our programs to include new sports. With all of the press coverage our work had been receiving other sports were keen for our support, and in 2013 we began to help develop netball.
Our netball coaches begun their session in Castries Comprehensive school, and assisted a couple of local clubs.
We have even more volunteer coaches join us this year, so many in fact that we are able to create a rugby team to take part in a national 7s tournament.
Our projects expand even further with the introduction of both cricket and football. With more coaches and more sports, we are able to expand our work into more schools and communities.
Our volunteers are also fantastic for bringing over donated kit, which allows us to establish more community groups.
Our cricket coaches also have the opportunity to work at the Darren Sammy Stadium, assisting the St Lucian women’s team to prepare for an upcoming tournament.
Our volunteer projects continue to grow with the introduction of tennis. Like in most countries, tennis had always been a sport that could only be accessed by the elite due to the cost of the required facilities and equipment. We used our donated equipment to begin coaching sessions in schools, often using a makeshift net. Our volunteers coaches also assisted at the national tennis centre.
With such a variety of different sports and coaches, we organised our first summer camps. These were completely free for children to attend and we put on an array of activities and sporting sessions.
Another new project was added this year, swimming. This had been something we’d been wanting to introduce for a while. With St Lucia being a small island nation no one is ever far from the water, but few know how to swim. We felt this was an essential skill that we wanted to be able to pass onto the communities and schools we worked with. Our volunteers were fantastic and we offered free swimming lessons and transport to children from some of the poorest communities in Castries.
Further expansion also took place, but this time into the classroom. For the first time, we had volunteers helping out in the classroom at one of our local schools. Many of the classes were overcrowded and understaffed, so our volunteers worked as teaching assistants.
With our volunteers working with so many different sports teams it was only a matter of time before we began welcoming physiotherapists to St Lucia. Up until this point, there had been very limited options for Physio treatment and support. We wanted our physio to have the opportunity to learn and develop their own skills, but also make treatment far more accessible.
This was a very busy year for us, with a number of new projects and an interesting head to head.
We expanded into offering internships, ranging from photography which would be used to help publicise our work through to volunteer coordinators who would assist our team in running our projects. This was a fantastic support for our team as our programs had been growing so much each year. It also gave past volunteers the chance to come back in new roles.
One of our founders, Joe, was also working in St Vincent and the Gredandies. We’d had numerous requests from other countries to expand to assist them and this was an opportunity to test this. Joe worked with the national team and helped to develop their school’s rugby program. He organised a junior rugby festival and then travelled to St Lucia with the men’s team for an official NACRA match against St Lucia. The spoils went to St Vincent!
Another exciting year as we introduce basketball and ultimate frisbee. Basketball was already popular in St Lucia due to its proximity to America, so we were keen to assist with aiding some local clubs. We added in Ultimate Frisbee as it was one of the new additions to the Olympics. This means that St Lucia can get additional funding if they begin developing the sport. This gives our coaches an exciting opportunity to get involved right from the start.
For the safety of all involved in our projects, our work has been on hold since the start of the COVID pandemic. We are aiming to welcome back volunteers in 2022. We can’t wait to see all of the smiling faces of the children in all the schools and communities we work in, and we would be delighted if you’d like to be there with us…