Visionary founder, Sherneil Charlery, is at the heart of a fledgling initiative that it is hoped will blossom to produce top-class female athletes for the tiny island of St Lucia in the next few years.

More importantly, however, ‘Supporting Girls in Sports’ has targeted bringing hope and knowledge to underprivileged young girls, hoping to find a way to rise out of poverty through sports.

If Charlery could choose just one Jamaican athlete to help with the organisation’s ‘Adopt A Girl’ initiative, she admits it would be difficult.  Jamaica is renowned through the Caribbean and the perhaps the world for producing top-class athletes.

In the end, she settled on Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Khadija Shaw. “Our current group of girls is involved in football and track and field. I would choose Fraser-Pryce and Shaw, not only because they play the same sports as our girls, but because they share the same stories. Like them, our girls come from single-parent homes or are raised in violent communities,” Charely explained.

“Seeing people who were able to succeed, despite the obstacles they faced, would inspire our girls to continue giving out their best.”

The ‘Adopt A Girl’ initiative aims to assist underprivileged female athletes (11- 14 years old) who are unable to afford their sporting expenses, such as club fees, equipment, and uniform. Additionally, the girls are paired with an advisor (an older member of the organisation) who will mentor and help them balance school, sports, and their personal lives.

It’s easy for an up and coming athlete to spot an internationally acclaimed Jamaican athlete to identify with.  The list is long and varied. Take Elaine Thompson-Herah for instance. When asked what motivates her, she told Dalton Myers on the August 31st’s episode of the Drive Phase, “I remember when I was growing up, I was looking at Veronica Campbell-Brown, Merlene Ottey and they motivated me to work hard and reach where I’m at,” she said.

The young girls can also look for inspiration further home.  A recent SportsMax.tv article In Honour of Levern Spencer spoke about the accomplishments of the great St Lucian athlete.  The article pointed to Spencer as a role model and pointed out that she was the best St. Lucia has ever produced, adding that “the next generation of St Lucian athletes have a marker to chase.”

The ‘Supporting Girls in Sports’ organisation wishes to expand the initiative to other Caribbean islands in the next five years, but in the meantime, their ‘Adopt A Girl’ program, which has helped seven girls to date, is already ensuring St. Lucia has a brighter future in athletics. 

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