A History of OECS Athletics – by Rey O’Neal

The OECS (Organization of Eastern Caribbean States) is a grouping of small Caribbean countries that, while having no direct political association, cooperate with one another in a number of different areas, including sport.

The OECS Sports Desk organizes or finds sponsorship for a number of sporting events. The OECS Track and Field Championships were perhaps the OECS event with the highest profile and although athletes from the member countries obtained major individual success after the demise of the meet, the absence of the competition has left a void in the regional development programme.

The countries which comprise the OECS include four from the Windward Islands- Dominica,Grenada, St. Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines; and five from the Leeward Islands – Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis, Montserrat, the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla.

The driving force behind the OECS Championships was Joseph “Reds” Perreira, the sports coordinator at the OECS sports desk. He was able to use his connections established as a regional sports personality, largely as a cricket commentator, to obtain sponsorship and concessions from a number of multi-national companies operating in the region. Texaco, through its Barbados office, underwrote the cost of staging the championships and a 50% rebate on airfares from LIAT, the regional carrier, made it possible for the delegations to be more representative than would otherwise have been the case.

Participants at the OECS Championships ran the whole gamut of athletic experience. There were athletes who had returned home after completing university studies, several athletes who would venture south from their American colleges, home-based competitors who had not ventured afield and a large number of junior athletes, especially in the longer track events for women.

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