The political climate in Cuba and world politics is about to shift. After 60 years of isolation from the rest of the world, the next few weeks will bare witness to a once in a generation social and political shift in Cuba. Resulting from the six decade embargo on this island nation, there has been limited to no opportunity for foreigners to come in and positively influence the community. Likewise, brands and companies have had almost no had the opportunity to showcase offerings including; equipment, gear, apparel, coaching, nutrition or otherwise. Currently youth athletes in Cuba's athletic development programs lack some of the basic sports apparel and equipment that many if not all Canadian athletes (amateur or pro) have and even take for granted. Cuba's previous political climate did not allow for such equipment to even be available in the country for purchase and thus it has been difficult for sports schools and athletes alike to acquire them.
The lifting of the embargo makes this an ideal time to take part in this transition. It is an opportunity that can only be seized once and cannot be missed. Cuba’s sport and development programs are about to enter a period of exponential growth, and now is the time to become part of this trailblazing opportunity and help to spearhead this change. Building Opportunity
This April we are hoping to partner with like-minded companies who see this as an opportunity, and are willing to give to the people of Cuba.
Our plan is to travel to Cuba with the intent of visiting Cuba’s National Sports School in Havana and engaging with the National Cycling and Triathlon programs, as well as smaller provincial sports schools in the area. The athletes at these schools are in great need of athletic apparel and equipment in order to train and compete on a level playing field with athletes all over the world. Our goal for all three groups is to provide equipment that we will be collecting through donations at Tri It Multisport and from companies willing to partner with us.
We also hope to provide youth at the National Sports School who have not tried the sport with an opportunity to discover and try Triathlon, recognizing the value in talent identification as athletes from a other sports may show huge potential in triathlon.
Lastly, we intend to offer and provide long-term support to the coaches and athletes currently involved in cycling, swimming, and triathlon in Cuba.Background
President Obama’s upcoming trip to Cuba brings the normalization of American and Cuban relations to the top of the public conscience. As the first acting President in decades to visit this humble but strong island nation, this helps to build momentum for our own upcoming trip. Our intent is to leverage this exposure to create awareness for our own journey, one that we hope to be the first of many.
Failure to act in this moment means more stories will go untold. Our goal is to inspire and show these children what sport can do for them, giving these children and youth other options to focus their lives on in a positive way. Cuba is one of the last remaining communist countries in the world and has endured sanctions longer than any other country in the world just miles from North America. Providing positive opportunities to those who need is it one way we can change the world one small step at a time.
While we are in Cuba we will be taking video and capturing images throughout the trip to tell the story of these athletes and this community, and build awareness for the support we can provide these athletes. We also hope to provide exposure towards how others in North America can become involved and support this community.
Finally, we intend to host a grassroots triathlon during our stay and offer it at no cost to the athletes. Video would also be taken of this to underscore the resilience of these athletes, competing without many of the common necessities to our sport such as proper running shoes, working bicycles, swim caps and goggles, and proper timing equipment. We will be collecting new and used gear donation at Tri It Multisport in Calgary, AB and by contacting the coaches and school in Cuba we have identified the following needs for athletes at the sport schools:
- Swim suits (10 years old and up)
- Silicone swim caps
- Run Clothing (running shorts, technical shirts, girls athletic bras, lightweight
- jackets, compression calf guards or socks)
- Cycling Kits (cycling shorts and cycling jerseys)
- Triathlon Clothing (1 piece race suits, triathlon shorts, triathlon tops)
- Sandals (flip flops or sandals for the pool)
- Running shoes (old and new)
- Bike Helmets
- Bike Parts (tubes, tires, broken chains, saddles, helmets, cassettes, bar tape)
- Electronics (Garmin or bike computers)
- Nutrition – gels, bars, etc
- Rollers/Massage Ball/The Stick
- Water bottles
Through these actions the end result is to then share what we see and lean and help create opportunities for others to do the same; whether it be in Cuba or around the world. Videos, articles and a step-by-step guide on how to then impact other communities will be shared throughout the world and with our partners.
The money collected through this campaign will go towards procurement and shipping costs of athletic apparel & equipment for cuban athletes in Havana, Varadero and Santiago and funding for the Inspire Sports Cuban project in Havana April 2016.