UWI Sportswoman and Sportsman of the Year named at third annual awards event

The University of the West Indies (The UWI) announced the recipients of its prestigious Vice-Chancellor’s Sportswoman and Sportsman of the Year Awards at a special ceremony at The Usain Bolt Sports Complex, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados on October 19. Present were representatives from The UWI’s four campuses (Mona, Cave Hill, St. Augustine and Open), as well as noted regional academics and athletes, such as the legendary cricketer, Sir Everton Weekes. Ms. Brittany Joseph (Table Tennis) and Mr. Fedrick Dacres (Discus) emerged as the Sportswoman and Sportsman of the year; they represent the St. Augustine and Mona Campuses respectively.

Awardees are selected from a field of UWI student athletes who exemplify not only excellence in their chosen athletic disciplines, but also fulfil stringent academic criteria while personifying the spirit of the University through volunteerism and participation in campus life. This year’s Awards saw 10 nominees from across all four campuses. They were proposed by their coaches and respective sports directors, then screened by Campus and University selection committees.

In the past few years, The UWI has focused much of its energy into sports-related initiatives intended to harness, channel and grow the wealth of athletic talent within the Caribbean region. Notable among these efforts was the establishment of a Faculty of Sport, which reaches across campuses and offers a world-class education in a range of disciplines.

At the awards ceremony, Head of the Academy of Sports, Cave Hill, Mrs. Amanda Reifer, spoke of recent developments intended to enhance student life and performance, such as the introduction of a student athlete mentorship programme and peer counselling, which fosters a better balance between their academic and sporting commitments. Director of Alumni Relations for The UWI, Mrs. Celia Davidson Francis underscored sport as being one of the pillars that bind both students and alumni alike in support of their alma mater. Deputy Principal, Cave Hill, Professor R. Clive Landis, expressed his pride in the achievements of The UWI athletics programmes, pointing out that students and alumni have performed creditably at the highest international levels, including the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics.
Professor Landis was supported by Dean of the Faculty, Dr. Akshai Mansingh, as both reflected on the unifying aspect of sport among West Indian people, and its role in creating a regional cultural identity. Sports, observed Dr. Mansingh, is also a way in which we gain the respect and admiration of the world. “Sport is one area in which we consistently punch above our weight,” he said, “and we do so with style, grace, and humility.”

Vice-Chancellor of The UWI and founder of the Awards, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles also spoke with pride and emotion about the opportunities afforded to student athletes to play against and learn from the world’s best. “There is no university in the world that provides for its students to play against the best teams in the world. But every international cricket team that comes to the Caribbean plays against The UWI, including England, Australia, India, and New Zealand.” He ended by asserting that the sporting facilities at The UWI are among the best in the world, and promised that further investment in them—and the students—is planned, following an ongoing capital campaign. “The Faculty of Sport is the crossroads and intersection of all faculties and disciplines,” he stated.

The Faculty will get yet another opportunity to shine next year with the biennial UWI Games 2019, which will see over 500 students from all campuses together in one place, competing for top honours while relishing the opportunity to meet and enjoy the event with their counterparts in other territories.