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The Com­mon­wealth’s 53 mem­ber coun­tries have a com­bined pop­u­la­tion of over two bil­lion, and more than 60 per cent of these peo­ple are un­der 30 years of age.

As the lead­ers and shapers of to­mor­row, young peo­ple are true as­sets to their coun­tries’ de­vel­op­ment and have an im­por­tant role to play in sus­tain­ing the Com­mon­wealth’s val­ues – for ex­am­ple, gen­der equal­i­ty and tol­er­ance, re­spect and un­der­stand­ing.

Youths are the back­bone of a so­ci­ety and hence they de­ter­mine the fu­ture of any giv­en so­ci­ety. This is be­cause all oth­er age groups, the kids, teenagers, mid­dle-aged and the se­nior cit­i­zens re­ly on the youth and ex­pect a lot from them. It ap­plies in the busi­ness and sport­ing world. It’s an im­por­tant age group in both to­day's so­ci­ety and the fu­ture so­ci­ety than oth­er age groups. There­fore, due to the high de­pen­dence on youth in the so­ci­ety, the youth have a crit­i­cal role to play be­cause the fu­ture of our fam­i­lies, com­mu­ni­ties and the coun­try lies in their hands.

For any coun­try to suc­ceed, it needs to be ed­u­cat­ed, well in­formed and re­spon­si­ble lead­ers. The youth have to cor­rect the mis­takes and short­com­ings of the pre­vi­ous lead­ers and com­plete­ly change the out­look of that par­tic­u­lar so­ci­ety.

Last week an in­spec­tion team vis­it­ed this coun­try to in­spect our bid for the 2021 Com­mon­wealth Youth Games af­ter com­plet­ing a site vis­it last week to Gibral­tar. If it comes to these shores, it would be the biggest youth event of its kind since the FI­FA Un­der 17 Men’s World Cup in 2001 and the U-17 Women’s World Cup in 2010.

The third edi­tion of the Com­mon­wealth Youth Games held in Pune, In­dia in 2008, saw over 1,220 ath­letes and 350 of­fi­cials from 71 coun­tries par­tic­i­pat­ed in nine dis­ci­plines. The last Com­mon­wealth Youth Games was held in Nas­sau, Ba­hamas with 1,034 par­tic­i­pants from 65 coun­tries and the sport­ing dis­ci­plines of Ath­let­ics, Swim­ming, Beach foot­ball, Box­ing, Cy­cling (Road), Ju­do, Rug­by Sev­ens, Ten­nis and Beach Vol­ley­ball were con­test­ed.

Al­though there are cur­rent­ly 53 mem­bers of the Com­mon­wealth of Na­tions, 71 teams cur­rent­ly par­tic­i­pate in the Com­mon­wealth Games, as a num­ber of de­pen­dent ter­ri­to­ries com­pete un­der their own flags. The four Home Na­tions of the Unit­ed King­dom—Eng­land, Scot­land, Wales, and North­ern Ire­land—al­so send sep­a­rate teams.

It is left to be seen what eco­nom­ic ben­e­fits will ar­rive if T&T does host these games but one thing's for sure, there will be no short­age of sport tourism op­por­tu­ni­ties for our twin-is­land.

All kinds of sports at­tract fa­nat­i­cal sup­port, both at the event and at homes of par­tic­i­pat­ing coun­tries, and there are both eco­nom­ic and so­cial ben­e­fits on a na­tion­al and re­gion­al lev­el from host­ing sports events, the vis­it­ing sports­men and women, their sup­port teams and sup­port­ers. Not on­ly are there the di­rect ben­e­fits of the mon­ey spent to pro­vide these events and the mon­ey spent by those par­tic­i­pat­ing but there are the in­di­rect ben­e­fits of in­creased em­ploy­ment in pro­vid­ing the ser­vices, im­proved in­fra­struc­ture to ex­ist­ing ones, ac­com­mo­da­tion, ameni­ties and the growth and de­vel­op­ment that po­ten­tial­ly con­tin­ues as a re­sult of such events.

Once a sport­ing event such as these games is booked, our tourism bod­ies will now need to en­cour­age vis­i­tors to not on­ly vis­it for the event but to ex­plore the area as a hol­i­day or busi­ness des­ti­na­tion. Many des­ti­na­tions have be­come adept at of­fer­ing pack­ages to fit a va­ri­ety of sport­ing op­tions.

Like oth­er coun­tries have been do­ing, it is im­por­tant that na­tion­al tourist Au­thor­i­ties and Boards un­der­stand that sports events are cur­rent­ly the biggest ve­hi­cle of pro­mo­tion for the whole ter­ri­to­ry and a won­der­ful oc­ca­sion to present the des­ti­na­tion and many dif­fer­ent tourist prod­ucts be­yond the main rea­son for the trip, the sport­ing event it­self.

The role of the youth is sim­ply to re­new, re­fresh and main­tain and these games will serve as an ide­al op­por­tu­ni­ty for them to be in the spot­light. And I’m not just talk­ing about the ath­letes but al­so the host of vol­un­teers and work­ing of­fi­cials who will have an op­por­tu­ni­ty to serve as a renowned glob­al sport­ing event.

Some of the most mem­o­rable mo­ments in our life­times will be sports re­lat­ed. These are events that stay with us, that give us a com­mon in­ter­est, that give young peo­ple he­roes to as­pire to be like. It is a price­less right to see adults give their time freely to help young peo­ple achieve their dreams; in turn, these same young peo­ple help the fol­low­ing gen­er­a­tions. The lo­cal foot­ball, ath­let­ics, crick­et and oth­er sport­ing clubs, for ex­am­ple, are of­ten at the heart of our com­mu­ni­ties where adults and young peo­ple come to­geth­er to com­pete, where friend­ships are made and am­bi­tions are re­alised.

Youth have a role to re­new and re­fresh the cur­rent sta­tus of our so­ci­ety in­clud­ing lead­er­ship, in­no­va­tions, skills etc they have al­so to main­tain the cul­ture of our cul­ture and all good val­ues in the so­ci­eties. Let’s start the cam­paign from now.

Ed­i­tor's Note:

Shaun Fuentes is the head of TTFA Me­dia. He is a for­mer FI­FA Me­dia Of­fi­cer at the 2010 FI­FA World Cup in South Africa. He is al­so cur­rent­ly a CON­CA­CAF Com­pe­ti­tions Me­dia Of­fi­cer and has trav­elled ex­ten­sive­ly, ex­pe­ri­enc­ing and learn­ing from dif­fer­ent cul­tures and lifestyles be­cause of sport and me­dia over the past nine­teen years. He is al­so a cer­ti­fied me­dia train­er for ath­letes.