The Caribbean region includes 26 countries and most of them are island states. The smallest among them is the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis with the population of 52 thousand people; the largest one is surely Cuba with about 12 million. Most of those countries are Britain's former colonies and members of the Commonwealth.
When we hear about the Caribbean countries, we imagine the azure water of the Caribbean Sea, the endless beaches and many cozy islands. Further associations come from the famous serial blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean.
The question of sports practiced in the region is easy to answer: it is baseball. There is even a special tournament held here: the Caribbean Series. Cricket is popular on the English speaking Antilles; the CONCACAF countries (members of Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) promote football.
Martial arts, including SAMBO, are not developed here. And yet, we are sure that very soon the next association after "Sea, beach, and pirates" will be "SAMBO".
Why? We would like to remind you that in March this year the founding congress of SAMBO Association of the British Commonwealth were held in London. This influential organization, very important for FIAS, was founded on the initiative of a famous art patron, sponsor of several public funds and non-governmental organizations Lord Simon Reading (England) who was elected the President of the Association.
One of the goals of the new Association is the development of SAMBO in the English speaking countries of the Caribbean region. This goal was declared at the Congress in March. But already in the end of May the Head of FIAS Development Andrei Moshanov visited two countries of the Caribbean Sea - Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados.
Trinidad and Tobago is the location of Joint Secretariat of all the National Olympic Committees of the Caribbean. Barbados is the place of residence of Mr. Steve Stout, President of National Olympic Committees Association of the Caribbean countries.
Andrei Moshanov met with the heads of National Olympic Committees of the both countries: Mr. Steve Stout (Barbados) and Mr. Michael Larry (Trinidad and Tobago). The leaders of Olympic movement supported SAMBO and assured the FIAS representative of their willingness to develop and promote this sport in their countries.
"SAMBO successfully opened the door to the Caribbean, - reckoned Vasily Shestakov, President of FIAS. - Actually, it is due to the efforts of Lord Simon Reading, President of SAMBO Association of the British Commonwealth. Thanks to his influence, support and sincere interest in the promotion of SAMBO in the world our geographic coverage is expanding successfully."
"It is great that Lord Reading became interested in SAMBO, understood its practical importance, and supported our social projects that now have got response, understanding and implementation opportunities in the countries of the Commonwealth", - commented Andrei Moshanov on the current activities of SAMBO Association of the British Commonwealth.
The visit of the Head of FIAS Development to the Caribbean was not merely official. At some of the seminars he demonstrated the practical importance of SAMBO. At those seminars, SAMBO was studied, practiced and enjoyed mostly by athletes engaged in similar martial arts: jiu-jitsu, judo and mixed martial arts. Their enthusiasm and engagement in the event made Andrei Moshanov think that very soon the sambist jackets could become their favorite uniform.
The students of the West Indies University (the key higher school in the Caribbean) also tried on the uniform. SAMBO aroused their interest. The first SAMBO group will be formed in the Barbados branch of the University in September (in the beginning of the academic year).
Mr. Roland Butcher, Sports Director of the University who also met with Andrei Moshanov sets ambitious goals for his prot?g?s - the medals of the World Cup and the Olympic Games. Such goals are a kind of challenge for the students and bring some new drive into their lives. Now, they will have this drive thanks to SAMBO.
"SAMBO is very interesting for us. We hope that our team will start successfully at Pan-American Championships in Columbia, and then at the World Cup in Minsk. In 2013, we are planning to take part in the Second Sport Accord Games (Saint-Petersburg, Russia) and the World Summer Universiade (Kazan, Russia)", - commented Jan Vivers, local coach, on his attitude towards SAMBO.
As it often happens, there were some surprises and coincidences. Mr. Benjamin Rondel was appointed to the position of Technical Director of Trinidad and Tobago SAMBO Federation. As it turned out he had first-hand knowledge of SAMBO. Russia as motherland of SAMBO gave the world many specialists and experts. One of them - Alexander Retyunsky - had coached Mr. Rondel.
It is remarkable that Trinidad and Tobago SAMBO Federation formed their national team regarding the results of the first two seminars. The team is going to participate in the Pan-American Championships as well as in the most important event of the season - the World Championships in combat and sports SAMBO that will be held in Minsk (Belarus) in November this year. The visit of FIAS representative resulted in the formation of two new National Federations on SAMBO world map: the ones of Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados, as well as two new national teams.
The new sport attracted the attention of local media (TV and radio news, press-conferences, and briefings). SAMBO was an interesting theme for the journalists who prefer spectacularity, brightness and dynamics (everything SAMBO has plenty of).
"Surely athletes of the new teams will have to work hard, as the leaders of modern SAMBO come from many years old schools with strong traditions. But, as the saying goes, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. The enthusiasm the athletes showed on the mats and the quick completing of all the formalities proved that SAMBO has a great future in the Caribbean region", - commented Andrei Moshanov on the results of his visit.
We wish good luck and success to the new Federations. As the ancient people used to say, strong is not what looks strong now; strong is what is developing.
For this reason, we are sure that the victories of Caribbean sambists are not too far away; and that they will be followed by the Olympic victory of SAMBO.
Natalia Yukhareva FIAS Press-service