’1000 Awesome Things about Curaçao’ features many examples of Curaçao’s exceptional athletic ability in Baseball, Soccer, Track and Field, Swimming, Tennis, etc. Simply select ‘Sports’ from the drop-down menu or check out #661. Coco Balentien: Japan’s Home Run King, #667. Curaçao’s Pariba Little League: Super Boys of Summer, #668. Churandy Martina and Curaçao’s Awesome Relay Team, #741. Enith Brigitha: First Black Olympic Champion Swimmer (1976), #772. Epitomy of Class: Sir Hensley “Bam-Bam” Meulens, #874. Curaçao’s Legendary Goalie Ergilio Hato (Pantera Negra), #971. Curaçao’s Record-Breaking Texas Rangers Rookie: Jurickson Profar, 736. Curaçao’s World-Class Tennis Player: Jean-Julien Rojer if you need a refresher.
To put our athletic prowess in a more global perspective, Curaçao has produced the most Major League Baseball players per capita than any other country in the world: 6 players in 2012 with a population of 142,000, that makes 42.3 MLB players per million inhabitants… versus the Dominican Republic’s 14.5, Venezuela’s 3.6 or even the US’ 3.2. (And I’m convinced that Curaçao is merely scratching the surface of its awesome athletic ability)
Unfortunately most of Curaçao’s athletic talent grows up under poor socio-economic circumstances and face significant challenges in realizing their innate potential as training facilities are often in lackluster condition and equipment is either old or non-existent. Public funds are limited when it comes to athletic development, so that’s where private sector sponsors step in and help out.
One of the most generous private sector sponsors when it comes to athletics is Refineria Isla (‘Isla’), Curaçao’s oil refinery. From 2006 to 2012 Refineria Isla has invested some 18 million guilders (approximately $10 million) in Athletics as part of their Social Investment Projects. Isla’s generous investment has benefited thousands of Curaçao’s competitive and recreational baseball, softball, soccer and basketball players and more recently also track and field, racing and swimming aficionados in the form of new-and improved facilities, fields, equipment, uniforms, lighting, etc.
Refineria Isla has graciously sponsored 25 articles on ‘1000 Awesome Things about Curaçao’ , so I’m returning the favor by highlighting some of the things Isla supports to make these awesome things about Curaçao a reality. Whatever Refineria Isla’s fate may be when PDVSA‘s government contract expires in 2019, I sincerely hope that these (extensive!) social investments remain in place.
Mon Repos Multi-Functional Sport Center
Refineria Isla donated $1 million to Stichting Beheer Sportterrein Mon Repos to construct a roofed dugout, wheelchair-accessible toilets, changing rooms as well as install lights to illuminate the multi-functional sport center at night. Refineria Isla will also sponsor uniforms for the teams who practice at Mon Repos. The new-and-improved facilities host baseball / softball, basketball and soccer aficionados from all ages and is open from 5 am to 7 pm daily.
Tio Daou Artificial Grass Ball Park
Refineria Isla donated artificial grass to (Fundashon) Tio Daou Ballpark worth $850,000. As of February 2013, several neighboring schools, minor, little, junior, intermediate and senior league baseball teams enjoy playing on this new and-improved field. Bonus: now Curaçao can invite Major League Baseball players to play invitational games and/or host baseball clinics in Curaçao.
Post 6 Artificial Grass Ball Park
Post 6 was completely renovated in 2007 (including artificial grass) and made accessible to Isla’s softball and baseball teams as well as Little League and Softball teams within the Curaçao community.
Refineria Isla Sponsors Baseball / Softball Team Uniforms
Isla has been sponsoring baseball uniforms for Sport Vereniging Sta. Maria Pirates (Triple AAA Youth) for the past 12 years. The team consists of 20 players between the ages of 16-18 living in neighborhoods of Sta. Maria, Heintje Kool, Buena Vista, Roozendaal, Moonchi, Mahuma, Savaan,Kanga, Dein, Wishi and Marchena.
Isla sponsors uniforms for Santa Maria Little League Liga Pabou’s 4 divisions (minor, little, junior, senior). The teams consist of youths between the ages 9 -16 years old who live in the areas of Sta. Maria, Buena Vista and Mahuma.
Isla has been sponsoring the uniforms and materials (catcher set, mask, bats, balls and gloves) for Liga Pre-Infantil (Banda Ariba) teams ages 6 -9 for the past 7 years. Isla has also been sponsoring the Baseball Pre-Infantil Championships for the past 19 years.
Isla also sponsors the female softball team New Dimension, Venezuela Softball Club, “Team Latino” (since 2005), as well as the “Century Stars” 50+ softball team (since 2012)
Refineria Isla Sponsors Soccer Teams (Pariba, Mei Mei, Pabou)
Isla has been sponsoring the Victory Boys’ soccer team for the past 60 years. The club consists of boys ages 11 – 20 and has approximately 80 members. The soccer field is located at Sapaté 13 (Pariba) and is accessible to neighborhood soccer teams. To celebrate their 60th anniversary in 2012, the Victory Boys wanted to upgrade their stadium and organize various local and international soccer tournaments, Refineria Isla donated approximately $80,000 to this end.
Refineria Isla Sponsors Renovations at Stadion Antoine Maduro
Isla contributed approximately $400,000 to rebuild Stadion Antoine Maduro’s grandstand and construct new changing rooms and bathrooms. Fundashon Barika Hel renovated the soccer stadium to introduce a variety of sport activities for neighborhood youth and schools.
Refineria Isla Sponsors Union Deportivo Tera Kòrá
UD Tera Kòrá (Pabou) contributes to the formation and physical and mental development of youth in the neighborhood of Tera Kòrá, especially the less privileged children. The club has approximately 250 members, starting from 8 years old until they become adults. UD Tera Kòrá mainly focuses on providing training and formation of youth through soccer. The field of UD Tera Kòrá did not have lighting, which made it impossible to practice soccer or other social activities during the evening. So Refineria Isla helped them with their request to install light poles around the soccer field.
Refineria Isla Sponsors “KJ Hoops” Tournament
Refineria Isla has been main sponsoring of the KJ Hoops basketball tournament (organized by KJ-74 Foundation, run by Kenley Jansen who is also a relief pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers) for the second year in a row. The tournament is meant to stimulate and promote basketball in Curaçao, since basketball is often considered an after- thought given Curaçao’s long-standing baseball and soccer tradition. As many as 26 teams participate in the tournament: 11 male junior teams, 11 male senior teams and 4 female junior teams.
Refineria Isla Sponsors B&M and Gators Basketball Club
The sponsorship covers uniforms (from Changes Pro Sport) for Junior and Senior male basketball team consisting of 40 members (B&M) and 12 youngsters (Gators).
Refineria Isla Sponsors Equipment for Curacaosche Atletiek Bond (Track & Field)
Isla’s sponsorship covers timing / observation booths and hurdles in Ergilio Hato Stadium at SDK, making it possible for them to host international competitions. CAB consists of 11 clubs representing approximately 400 athletes.