The Ministry of Sports, Fitness and Recreation has launched efforts to draw up a comprehensive 20-year plan, with input from international sports experts and various stakeholders in Maldives’ sports industry, in a bid to foster development of athletes in the country. Meetings to develop the plan began on Friday and will last seven days.

During the first meeting, the lead actors of the plan, the International Coaching Enrichment Certificate Program (ICECP) experts met with various officials from the Ministry of Sports, Fitness and Recreation, the Maldives Olympic Committee (MOC), the Sports Council, the Ministry of Education, and the Commissioner of Sports.

The ICECP is touted as one of the most recognised coach education programmes in the world and their services are offered in partnership between the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC), Olympic Solidarity, and the University of Delaware.

With considerable experience at the highest levels of the sport, ICECP delivers considerable expertise to the plan, through experts such as Steve Roche, a Sports Performance Director at Burson Cohn & Wolfe (BCW) Sports, and sports consulting firm CPTM’s Sports Enterprise President, Matthew J. Robinson — both bringing a breath of knowledge and experience in planning through their work in the United States.

Minister of Sports, Fitness and Recreation Abdulla Rafiu initially announced a 20-year plan for sports while addressing athletes at the MOC Athletes Forum held in December.

“We are working on a clear pathway that will take the infants of sports from the playground to the international arena,” the minister had said at the forum.

As meetings ran into its second day the sports minister said that this would be the start of a series of important efforts for the future of athletes across the country. The ministry, as part of the planning effort, planned to hold meetings with national sports associations and various sports bodies and stakeholders as the meeting go forward.

Meetings will be conducted with various government ministries such as the Ministry of Tourism; Ministry of Economic Affairs and Trade; Ministry of Housing, Land and Urban Development; the Housing Development Corporation; and the US Mission to Maldives, following which ICECP will spend time visiting sports facilities in the Malé area to ascertain the current ground reality.

The biggest challenge in promoting sports in Maldives is its geographical makeup; sports development in the islands pose additional challenges due to the nature of the archipelago. International sports experts who have visited the Maldives in the past have observed that the development of sports faces obstacles due to the transportation make-up and other added logistical challenges, noting that specific information on islands will be needed for a realistic long-term plan on sports.

The ICECP experts are scheduled to visit Kulhuduffushi Island in Haa Dhaalu (HDh) Atoll to gain a snapshot of sports promotion and development in the Maldives where they are expected to meet councils, schools, and sports professionals from various islands in the region.