The National Youth Block Draughts Tournament continues to grow.
Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth, Stephen Lashley made this observation today, during the launch of the annual Tournament at his office at Sky Mall, Haggatt Hall, St. Michael.
Minister Lashley noted that from its inception in 2012, the tournament, which is hosted by the Division of Youth and various stakeholders, has seen a steady increase in prize money and team participation.
Mr. Lashley noted that over the past four years the tournament had seen a significant rise in the number of teams, with eight participating in the 2012 tournament and an estimated 35 participating in this year’s tournament.
The Minister, who noted that the “programme in particular has been used as a very important tool of…empowering young people”, declared that “there has been a fantastic response at the community level”.
“Not only did the number of teams increase each year, but also the prize money…The prize money moved from $4,000 in 2012 to $5,050 in 2015. This year, the total prize money would increase to $9,050,” he said.
He also indicated that as the programme continues to evolve, the Ministry has decided to make an age stipulation. According to Minister Lashley, all teams are now required to have at least half of its members fall under the Division of Youth’s age bracket, nine to 29 years.
Noting that the event was “more than just a draughts tournament” the Sports Minister pointed out that the Ministry had continued to partner with the Department of Emergency Management (DEM) to provide special first responder training for select community teams.
The teams currently selected to undergo the first responders training with the DEM are from Ellerton, St. George; Haynesville, St. James; Belleplaine, St. Andrew; and Broomefield, St. Lucy.
Draughts matches will be played every Tuesday and Thursday at various locations across the island until February, when the finals are expected to begin.