The government of Mauritius is to create a new national ‘sport for all’ strategy and action plan with support from the Commonwealth.
Announcing the new strategy and plan in Ebène, a suburb of the capital Port Louis, minister of youth and sports Yogida Sawmynaden said the government intends to transform the country into a “sports hub” offering all citizens the opportunity to take part in physical activities.
The initiative will help “to build a fitter and a healthier nation” and tackle health issues which have a negative, social and economic impact on the population, including young people, he said.
“Mauritius is among the top countries in the world whose population has a high incidence of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases associated with physical inactivity. It is therefore imperative to combat these ills of modern life,” he said.
The minister was speaking at the opening of a consultative meeting and workshop this week on the development of the sport strategy and action plan which aims to “maximise the contribution of sport to national development priorities”.
The workshop on 27 September was organised by the Ministry of Youth and Sports in collaboration with the Commonwealth Secretariat. The aim was to ensure that the new strategy will contribute to improving health, social cohesion and the inclusion of marginalised groups in Mauritius. It covered ways to increase participation in sport and physical activity and maximise the contribution of sport to sustainable development.
Oliver Dudfield, head of sport for development and peace at the Commonwealth Secretariat, who is leading on the technical assistance provided to the Mauritian government, said the initiative to harness sport to support national development priorities should be “applauded”.
He said: “Plans to position Mauritius as a regional sports hub would add another dimension to the country's burgeoning services and tourism sector, while strengthening the role of sport and physical education in schools would significantly contribute to the government's focus on delivering quality holistic education outcomes.”
“Getting more people active through sport makes a direct contribution to addressing the burden of non-communicable diseases in the country, while targeted sport-based initiatives can enhance youth development and community cohesion,” he added.
In August, governments from 32 Commonwealth countries took the historic step of committing to align their national sports policies to the United Nations sustainable development goals, in order to gear investments in sport towards positive outcomes in health, education, gender equality and justice.
At the Commonwealth Sports Ministers Meeting in Rio de Janeiro on 4 August, Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland challenged Ministers to take bold steps to strengthen and scale national sports policy focused on advancing sustainable development.