“We are laying out the road map to launch the Faculty of Sports in the next few months,” Beckles explained at the end of the UWI St Augustine campus council meeting at St Augustine.
“We are offering degree programmes at the undergraduate, masters and PhD levels. It is a research and teaching faculty,” he said.
At present, he noted that the three main campuses - Mona (Barbados), Cave Hill (Barbados) and St Augustine (Trinidad) - have sport academies.
“What we are going to do, is to coordinate them into one overarching structure which will be the UWI Faculty of Sport that will coordinate sport right through the campuses,” he said.
However, each campus would be a centre of speciality.
The Cave Hill campus, he said, will have a speciality in cricket studies and research, St Augustine campus will be in football and research, and Mona Campus will be in track and field and research.
“Each campus will do all the sports and other sporting disciplines,” he said, “but we will assign to them a special responsibility to create a high performance centre in the areas mentioned.” Beckles noted, too, that for the first time, the UWI will identify the best student athletes across the Caribbean and will present them as student athletes of the year at an awards ceremony to be held at the launch of the faculty.
“We are planning that as I speak. We have some great plans and initiatives for sport, not only in terms of academics and research but also in terms of high performance,” he said, “because we want to see our students become professional sports athletes, and Olympians representing the Caribbean in all disciplines.” The Caribbean, he claimed, is the most proficient part of the world in terms of generating high performance global athletes.
“No part of the world has produced on a per capita basis as many globally respected athletes as the Caribbean, he said.
“However, we do not have the industry nor the academy to support that public expertise.” He said. “If the region is going to generate expertise like that we need to have industry and research around it. We are trying to put together all of those components to sustain the excellence that we have achieved.
Right now we have the fastest man and the fastest women coming from the Caribbean.” If having dominated global track for the last 30 to 40 years with the fastest people, then reached the stage where the region cannot win a gold medal in the next 20 years, he said, “We have to find ways to support and sustain that.” The Faculty of Sport, he said, “will be part of our response to sustain this legacy of excellence that the public has achieved.” The UWI, he said, is also hoping to establish links with Caribbean industries to generate production around sporting equipment.
“All the gears that we use are imported,” he said.
As a cricket fan, he noted that, West Indies Test captain Jason Holder and vice captain Kraigg Brathwaite are UWI students.
“That young generation of UWI students are the ones I have confidence, will turn around the fortune of West Indies in the Test arena,” he said.