Atlantic will invest $7 million over the next three years in its Atlantic Coaching Excellence (ACE) programme and three primary school leagues.
The announcement came at the launch of the ACE programme, chaired by former national goalkeeper and ESPN football commentator Shaka Hislop, at the Port of Spain Ballroom of the Hyatt Regency Trinidad hotel yesterday. Former West Indies batsman Brian Lara was among the guests.
The programme will target coaches from more than 250 primary schools and coaches from non-participating schools throughout the country.
The initial focus will be on two sports, cricket and football, but will expand to include athletics later on.
Darren Holder, the Level 3 high-performance coach and assessor with Cricket Australia, will conduct Level 1 coaching certification for cricket in the early stages before advancing to higher levels in the latter part of the three-year programme.
Holder is also a former coaching manager with the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and a current facilitator of certification for the WICB.
On the football side, Atlantic is partnering with the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF) and its technical director, Anton Corneal, to develop a programme for primary school coaches.
Toni Sirju-Ramnarine, Atlantic vice-president corporate operations, and wife of former West Indies Players Association (WIPA) president and CEO Dinanath Ramnarine said, "Sport in itself requires an agent, someone who can create excitement and participation and lead the transformational change which sport can offer. Coaches are perhaps the greatest influence on the enjoyment, development and learning that young people derive from sports."
Sirju-Ramnarine said Atlantic has been able to increase participation in sports at the primary-school level through the company's sponsorship of three annual leagues— the Atlantic National Primary Schools' Cricket League, Atlantic National Primary Schools' Football League and Atlantic National Primary Schools' Track and Field Championships.
She said many children had participated because of the voluntary support from teachers, parents and other members of the community.
But Sirju-Ramnarine said Atlantic wanted to marry that passion with formal training and certification to build the capacity of coaches so they can deliver the best coaching to young children.
Minister of Education Dr Tim Gopeesingh said the ACE programme will help with the development of coaches in non-tactical areas such as mentoring, counselling and social welfare, which are critical to the holistic development and nurturing of young children.
Atlantic sports ambassadors George Bovell, Kieron Pollard, Sunil Narine and Andrew Lewis, and Olympic gold medallist Hasely Crawford were also present at the launch. The fifth ambassador, West Indies women's cricketer Merissa Aguilleira, was absent because she is currently involved in the series against South Africa