Physical fitness and sports accessible to all Cubans
HAVANA (November 18, 2004) AIN – PHYSICAL FITNESS and the practice and enjoyment of sports in Cuba is not a privilege of a minority well-to-do segment of the population, but a social right available to all citizens.
Cuba leads Latin America and the Caribbean in this important field and that achievement has undeniably raised the quality of life on the island, noted participants on Thursday evening’s “The Round Table” program.
Besides, the island does not keep its sports achievements to itself. It also shares them with other countries, especially Third World nations, where dozens of Cuban coaches and trainers are helping them improve their sports performance.
As a way to encourage physical fitness on the island “The Round Table” panelists said the Cuban Sports, Physical Education and Recreation Institute (INDER) is prioritizing the completion of out-doors gymnasiums in all municipalities.
Residents of the Escambray Mountain Range in Central Cuba interviewed on the nationally broadcast radio and television program, spoke about the improvement of their health after the systematic practice of physical exercise, designed according to their respective ailments.
Teenagers from several parts of the island also commented on the importance of being able to practice their favorite sports.
Two-time Montreal 1976 Olympic champion Alberto Juantorena, a vice president of INDER said that a network of neighborhood gymnasiums is being set up across the island in people homes, backyards, and in community centers, where physical education teachers are orienting residents according to their individual interests.
Another achievement has been the organization of a network of physical therapists that make house calls to help sick people recover.
This service is part of the island’s free healthcare system. In Cuba, there are currently some two thousand sports facilities and over the last few months many have been refurbished and had their lighting systems improved.
Their hours have been expanded to accommodate the schedules of workers and students.
Panelists pointed out that Cuba is the only nation that includes physical education and sports at all educational levels, and noted that playing chess has also expanded throughout the country.
Meanwhile, baseball enthusiasts will be watching the inaugural ceremony of the 44th season of the Cuban Baseball League to take place this evening at the Latin American Stadium in Havana. Baseball is Cuba’s national pastime.
The season will kick off with a game between Havana’s Industriales team, last year’s champions, and the squad from runner-up Villa Clara from central Cuba. For the first time ever, the event will be webcast by the Cuban Baseball Federation web page.