SINT MAARTEN (POINT BLANCHE) - On Wednesday, June 15th, two soccer associations, the ‘R.I.S.C Takers’ and ‘Street Kings’ visited the Point Blanche prison to play demonstration matches with the inmates. The ‘R.I.S.C Takers’ is a local soccer association that promotes participation in soccer of all levels and ages on the island. The Street Kings association is a Dutch soccer association consisting of professional soccer players with the goal to similarly promote and encourage participation in the sport of soccer around the world.
The Street Kings, led by Edward van Gils, arrived on the island on Tuesday, June 14th, and have been touring schools on both sides of the islands. Included in their tour was a visit to the detention facilities. The Street Kings have toured many prisons in the Netherlands and around Europe, with the primary goal to motivate the inmates to turn their life around through stimulating discussions with the inmates and physical engagement through soccer.
The initiative was organized in collaboration with the prison management team, led by the prison director Mr. Steven Carty, and the soccer associations. The goal with this initiative was to provide inmates the opportunity to engage in fun, sporting activities, as sport has a positive effect on the physical well-being and mental health of inmates in general. It allows inmates to process their emotions in a healthy way and can positively affect the prison living environment as it may influence the inmates’ overall behavior.
The participation of the inmates in the matches with the professional soccer players was extensive. The matches were played with great enthusiasm and sportsmanship from both the inmates and the Street Kings. Other inmates and staff spectated and positively motivated the players during the matches.
The matches were described as fun, challenging and safe, whereby the inmates got the opportunity to bond with their fellow inmates and play as a team against the Street Kings.
After the matches, the Street Kings also got the opportunity to sit with the Inmate Association, represented by three inmates, to share their views on the event. The Inmate Association expressed their appreciation for the management team for organizing such an event, and for the Street Kings and the R.I.S.C Takers for taking the time to visit them. The Inmate Association recognizes the efforts the management team has been taking to improve the living environment within the detention facility such as improvements made to the gym, the airspaces, the educational courses and more. The Street Kings ended the discussion with some words of encouragement.
The prison director, Mr. Steven Carty, stated that: “As a sport enthusiast myself, I hoped such an event could be a great way to positively engage with and facilitate social and emotional development amongst the inmates. Sport-based activities are an innovative way to excite the inmates and promote positive participation. I look forward to continuing to organize such events, for example in the field of basketball, table tennis and more, as this one was well received and plays an important role in the rehabilitation of the inmates.”