'Sports has a unifying factor where solidarity and collaborative spirit come into play. Sports must become part of our DNA, and, it is crucial to have the appropriate frame of mind when we talk about developing a sports culture', said the Prime Minister, Minister of Home Affairs, External Communications and National Development Unit, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mr Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, yesterday afternoon at the Madho Gopaul Government School, in La Caverne, Vacoas.
The Prime Minister was speaking at the launching ceremony of the After School Sports and Fitness Programme (ASSFP) which is the first sports initiative under the Sports for All Programme 2017. The event was organised by the Ministry of Youth and Sports in collaboration with the Mauritius Sports Council. Several personalities were present at the event during which commemorative plates were presented to four primary schools in Education Zone 4 embarking on the ASSFP.
In his address, the Prime Minister stated that the Sports for All Programme is a first of its kind with emphasis on the promotion of sports across the country. The effect on children and the population at large with regard to practicing a sports activity will, over the years, be extraordinary, he remarked. Mr Jugnauth recalled that Mauritius has produced many high-level athletes in the likes of Maryse Justin, Sheila Seebaluck, Corinne Leclaire, Bruno Julie, Stephan Buckland, Eric Milazar, Judex Lefou, Sultan Beeharry and Khemraj Naiko. These athletes have honoured Mauritius by winning numerous international competitions, he emphasised.
The Prime Minister also spoke of Government's vision of making the country a nation where each citizen practice a physical and sports activity. He underlined the importance of inculcating a sports culture among children at the level of primary education. We want to democratise access to different sports disciplines with opportunities for all our children and we are starting with primary schools, he pointed out.
For Mr Jugnauth, it is inconceivable to sum up education as only an academic race. Children should learn and put in efforts to try getting the best possible results, however, sports constitutes a fundamental element for a child to fully develop, he said. The practice of a sports activity from a young age will ensure that children cultivate strong values such as efforts, discipline, determination, as well as develop physical and mental force, and therefore succeed in the face of adversity, he stated.
The Prime Minister also announced that an activity, a non-stop walk over 12 hours, is under preparation, and will bring together all 25 Ministries. Accordingly, a committee has been set up at the level of the Prime Minister's Office to work in collaboration with the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
The programme was launched in May 2017 on a pilot basis in 64 primary schools across Mauritius (56) and Rodrigues (8) and involved more than 2000 pupils of Grade 4 who participated, after school hours, in sports activities comprising Kids Athletics, Mini Handball and Football.
The ASSFP will be carried out straight after school and in the school yard itself once a week, to start at 15h30 and end at 17h00 and will run for a period of eight weeks per term. Schools have been identified in collaboration with the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Ministry Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research for the programme. Approximately 40 children are expected in ASSFP per school.
The objective is to reach a large number of children and youth and engage them in healthy and positive activities after school hours.