Cuba-Grenadaby Michael Bascombe

HAVANA, Cuba, December 8, 2015 – Grenada is expected to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to promote co-operation on physical education and sports development with Cuba in Havana this week.

Sports Minister Emmalin Pierre and Co-ordinator of Sports Conrad Francis are in Havana to meet with Cuban officials including the National Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation (INDER).

The Minister said the visit is on the request of the Cuban government to provide assistance to Grenada’s sporting programme.

“Sometime in December myself and the co-ordinator will be travelling to Cuba and one of the primary reasons is to take up the Cuban government’s offer to give greater support to our sporting programme,” the Minister told Parliament during a presentation of the 2016 budget.

“We want to get it right, we want to do it right and all of these years we have been doing well but yes, it’s not just about doing well, in winning medals there is a lot of work to do in the area of sports administration.”

The delegation is hoping to receive Cuba’s commitment in scholarship programmes, high performance and training programmes for athletes, sports facilities and equipment, formation and upgrading of coaches and specialists.

They will also concentrate on the Cuba’s expert coaches and specialists in the fields of physical education, sports development and sports science.

The Minister is hoping that the sporting federations will take advantage of the government’s initiative and maximise on whatever assistance provided by Cuba, recognised at the highest level in international sports.

Cuba has provided technical assistance to Grenada especially in the sporting disciplines of athletics, boxing and swimming. The coach of Grenada’s swimming team is Gerson Escobar Fernandez, a Cuban national.

The visit to Cuba coincides with the Cuba-CARICOM Day a date established at the first joint summit held in Havana in 2002 to mark the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Havana and the Caribbean Community.

As for Grenada, both countries re-established diplomatic relations in 1996, 13 years after the two had called it quits. Between 1979 and 1983, when the two first established diplomatic ties just after the revolution which overthrew the Eric Gairy-led government and the country was being run by the People’s Revolutionary Government led by Maurice Bishop, Grenada benefitted highly from the relationship.

In those years, hundreds of Cubans flew into the island and assisted with the construction of the international airport and general development of the country’s infrastructure.

Grenadian nationals were awarded scholarships to study medicine, dentistry and other disciplines in Cuba.

Francis, who is accompanying the Sports Minister, is a 1985 graduate from Cuba.

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