Iva’s vision bursts forth at UWI

FOR a quarter of a century Dr Iva Gloudon dreamt of the day she would organise a programme of sport and physical education at the University of the West Indies. Today, this tall, elegantly attired woman, who will be 52 in March, sits in the director’s office at the Sport and Physical Education Centre on the St Augustine Campus of the University of the West Indies, where she is Director of Sport and Physical Education.

Gloudon is considered "a visionary." Not only did she conceive the idea of a multi-functional, state-of-the-art sports facility at the University of the West Indies, but has devoted the past 14 years of her life to the building of this centre which she stresses is not a stadium but a training and development facility; and also to designing an academic sports programme that never existed before at an English speaking Caribbean university.

Entrance to the very impressive building which stands on the north-eastern end of the campus, is on St Augustine Circular Road. It was officially opened in 2003 with little or no fanfare whatever. All through her studies in the United States of America, Iva Gloudon always knew she was coming home. " I knew that UWI had nothing in terms of an organised programme. Remembered UWI did not have a job for me. Yet remembering I left TT with the specific intention to start a sport and physical education programme at the university, that is what I always wanted to do so I decided to come back after almost 12 years completing three degrees and working as Head of the Sport and Physical Education Department at Spelman in Atlanta where I went very specifically to get the experience after my doctorate."

After graduating from Diego Martin Government Secondary School, Gloudon completed A-levels at the Sixth Form Polytechnic, obtained a Teacher’s Diploma from the Port-of-Spain Teacher’s College, and taught in the primary school system at St Hilda’s Girls, Chinapoo Government (Morvant), Carenage Girls’ Government, Diego Martin Government and at the Diamond Vale Government School. Today she says gratefully: "That primary school teaching is very important because it shaped my life."

A hockey scholarship took her to the University of Illinois where she completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Education and Bio Science followed by a Master’s in Physical Education Administration; and finally a doctorate in Physical Education/Teacher Education at Spelman College, and is the only person in this country to have this qualification which enables her to teach teachers how to teach physical education.

Coming back home Gloudon found it difficult to convince anyone at the University that she needed a job, "until" she said "you arranged for me to call Professor Max Richards on his private line. I think he saw some glimmer behind it all and the management of the university hired me for one year to be a consultant to design a programme for the university." But this very determined woman had her own vision of what sport and physical education should be on the campus.

"They saw sport as recreational activity for students and staff, but in the design I had a comprehensive proposal about how I saw the entire thing happening and brought it back to them. Then they hired me to be the director. I did not think anybody in the region really understood the concept."

Professor Compton Bourne, then deputy principal, more than anybody else knew the university needed something that was extra-curricular to attract students. And since nobody saw it the same way that Gloudon was thinking of it, they left her alone to do what she wanted to do.

Bourne became principal. Gloudon was working out of his office, would talk to him about what she wanted to do, and he began to support it in every way, and financially.

"I mashed a lot of corns but I had my vision and in my mind I knew exactly what I wanted to do but nobody else knew."

And singlehandedly, in a little office across the campus, Gloudon started to plan, to execute, always knowing that the key to pulling everything together, eventually would be the facility.

"I had the space to do it, but they were not thinking building at all. Inter-campus games every two years that was the limits of what they were thinking, but of course I was in a totally different place with it."

Gloudon co-opted The Sports Clerk, Victor Cowan, to whom she gives a lot of credit. "He was Head of Student Services, he was a table tennis person, we started and got it going, streamlining the recreation programme.

"Nobody was thinking of studying sport. And then I designed a certificate in the art and science of coaching representing the first formal academic programme to happen and that is where all coaches in the country started to go to get certified, and it was accepted by the Ministry of Sport, and still exists today."

A certificate in physical education has also been designed for the School of Continuing Studies.

It was time to move on to a degree in sports management. "We were at the time with the office of Sports and Physical Education, and offices and centres do not run degrees. Faculties run degrees. So we linked up with the School of Education for the certificate in art and science of coaching then linked up with the School of Management for the degree in Sports Management, and collaborating with Mr Errol Simms head of the School of Management, designed that degree.

"I was always in charge of the Sport and Physical Education component and they would put some university requirements on top of that. But all sports and physical education courses are run from the building which is now the centre. We have designed a degree in physical education and a degree in Sports Science, currently being taken through the university and academic process, and are trying to offer them in September of 2006." These will complete the component of degree programmes that the director had envisioned.

Through it all, Gloudon was forced to recognise many things at a personal level. "I did not see myself as different, but I had to come to terms with that fact and was forced to recognise that was so in many ways. I think I also came to terms spiritually with what my life represented and where I was going. It was that spiritual enlightenment getting that close to Jesus Christ that made me realise two very important things: Promotion does not come from man, promotion comes from God. And I was more interested in pleasing God than pleasing man and those two things reshaped how I would do things."

Becoming president of women’s hockey and football, quickly made her recognise that in this country people are willing to revel in mediocrity and that excellence which she strives for at all times, would get beaten down.

Another important event was the death of her brother under really horrible circumstances and she made the decision to adopt his three daughters and so got a ready-made family in a split second — Jamila, 14, Q’wando, 12 and Shania, one, who are now 22, 20 and nine.

"My whole perspective changed. How I was going to spend my money. What was going to be my priorities for obviously they were now my priority. How I was going to shape their lives, in what direction I was going to point them. I really had to think what kind of role model I was going to be."

When Gloudon tried to build the hockey facility for the International World Cup Preliminary tournament at Tacarigua, she realised that in this part of the world a lot of people know nothing about the discipline of sport but all think they do.

"You have the know-how and credentials but they do not want to listen to you because a lot of times you do not have the authority and they do whatever they want. So once I got the go-ahead to start building this facility, I kept it a secret basically and that is why it is unknown. Trying to force them to build the facility didn’t work, so I had to convince them that it could be a place to house graduation and that was the turning point. You have to think what other people want and not what you want, especially people who have influence and authority. Even when they began to build they did not know the true cost. I let them know whenever money was needed so it grew from a small endeavour to this grand scale."

She is sure that the Holy Spirit was with her when she looked at the empty field 14 years ago and says: "There are some things I did in my life which caused the Holy Spirit to want to be with me. I have worked with thousands of young people in America and then here getting them scholarships of tremendous monetary value and particularly exposing them to life. My mother lives with me. The Holy Spirit saw that I was genuinely interested in sharing what I had with people. I was truly blessed."

A tour of the building showed that every square foot of space has been sensibly utilised. In the next couple of years, the complex will be completed with the addition of a track, artificial hockey surface, rugby field and outdoor lights.

"We have tried to make here as modern as we can with the latest equipment." Yet Gloudon has not done the thing she has been trained to do, that is to develop Physical Education teachers.

Currently she co-ordinates and supervises the sports management internship module, placing students in different sporting agencies to do their practical training before graduation.

"I lecture and have them out in the field also but I still have not done what I am trained to do as yet. All of this developed a setting to be able to do that. Our athletes do not have basic skills and basic knowledge of movement because we do not have trained physical education teachers, and we have just made physical education an examinable subject at CXC. So therefore TT needs at least 600 secondary school physical education teachers and you need qualified people who know what they are doing. Now that the degree is designed to come on stream in September that is the thing I most want to do, and finally we also have the setting of a teaching facility," Gloudon said.


"Iva’s vision bursts forth at UWI"

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