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October 31, 2013

President Bouterse exhorts youth to be the best

REMARKS:  His Excellency President Desire D. Bouterse, President of the Republic of Suriname

                                & Pro Tempore President of UNASUR

Today I am proud to be present as Suriname receives the signal honor of being part of the Coca Cola FIFA World Cup Trophy tour.

Suriname is a football loving country and we are excited to see the world’s most prestigious sports trophy… yes, the original solid-gold-Trophy making its historic first ever tour of Latin America.

And Suriname, who holds the Pro Tempore Presidency of UNASUR, is delighted that the finals in 2014 will be held in Brazil - a leading UNASUR member-state, our neighbor, and ally.

The people of Suriname not only welcome this trophy, we are happy to join the millions of fans in the more than 80 countries that the trophy will be seen on tour.

Suriname truly values the game of football and has been attempting to gain a place in the World Cup finals since 1962.  Our national team has put up outstanding performances in the CONTACAF group, reaching round 3 of the qualifying games for their group in 2010. Of course, looking back, Suriname's strongest showing in World Cup qualification was the campaign for the 1978 finals, when the national team reached the final group stage.  Although we have not yet qualified, one silent dream that burns strongly in our hearts is for us to get to the finals one day.

As a sports person myself, I value Football and other sports to help build both personal and national character.  As a country we celebrate the achievements of our gifted Surinamese football players and other sports people.

As part of that drive, Suriname continues to invest in its youth!  Thus, we have created the Caribbean Sports Academy to provide academic sports-training to bright, talented, young sports leaders across the Caribbean Community, in football, track and field, swimming, volleyball and others games.

As president I have closely observed how sports have transformed the character and destiny of many countries like South Africa, India, and of course, Brazil.  Sports play a major part in shaping the motivation of nations.  It helps to cement values of self-discipline, dedication and courage.

Therefore, I thank FIFA and Fernandes – the local manufacturer of Coca Cola, for bringing the World Cup trophy to us in this rich multi-cultural harmonious society.  I am confident that all Surinamers will lift their dreams of performing to the center of the world stage not only in football but in other sports. There are countless stories in the sporting world of people overcoming tremendous obstacles to achieve the highest levels.

I know that in our midst there are upcoming champions.  Even though we are a small country, we have the fire in our belly to bring them to life.  I urge our youth to never forget the words of Invictus:

                ‘You are the masters of your fate.  You are the captains of your souls!’

You have it in you to be champions.  We believe in you.  We are supporting your dreams.  Today we will let this visit strengthen our conviction to lift the trophy of victory as winners.

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