Photo/Courtesy of Taahir Bulbulia
How do you take sports to the next level in the Caribbean? These are the type of questions I posed to Taahir Bulbulia. Taahir has always been passionate about sports. He played cricket for several years and received a scholarship to play in Trinidad and Tobago. He chose instead to pursue his education, first in Physical Education and now Sports Science at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill.
Taahir is many things, student leader, athlete, coach, and mentor. Taahir is the founder of the Sports Science Society, a student-based organization that promotes the holistic benefits of sports. He is currently serving a two-year term as Ambassador to the International University Sports Federation. Bulbulia is also the Vice President of the Cave Hill Guild of Students.
Making a Difference
Taahir's leadership journey began after completing secondary school when he transitioned from playing sports to coaching younger players in his community. After seeing the passion they had for the game, he realized he could make a difference. "I wanted to provide opportunities for young people to learn, grow, and develop in sports," he said.
The Sports Science Society has a dual purpose. The organization provides sports internships to students. The Society also mentors at-risk youth on drug prevention, mental health, and sports. Since the launch, the mentorship program has trained 30 volunteers across 10 organizations and reached over 500 youths in the region.
Last year, under Taahir's leadership, the Sports Society signed a five-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Trinidad and Tobago’s Cunupia Football Club (FC). This MOU gives the Sports Science students the opportunity to implement the theoretical skills learned in school. Students participating in this program will be allowed to coach, manage and execute tasks as needed. The program also helps students develop transferrable skills needed for future employment, such as teamwork, leadership skills, and time management skills. This initiative has been so successful it is now being developed in St. Lucia and Barbados.
The young leader's work did not go unnoticed. Earlier this year, he was selected as a top 20 finalist for the 2021 Commonwealth Youth Award. This award recognizes young people across Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, Canada, and the Pacific who are making an impact in their community.
Taking Sports to the Next Level
Taahir believes that sports and development go hand-in-hand. "The Caribbean has the human capital, but it’s the financial investment that is now needed to improve the level of training athletes receive. We lose a lot of our top athletes to countries that can offer the coaching, training, and sponsorship they need to take their careers to the next level. By building the foundation for a complete sports experience for athletes, we can create a new industry that can give our economy the boost it needs," he explained.
Bulbulia noted, “As we return to some form of normalcy in a post-Covid world, it is integral that we begin to develop our countries. We must put our people at the forefront of development, leaving no one behind. We must also begin to look at innovative ways for development.
Taahir is looking forward to completing his Bachelor's degree in Sports Science this year. His long-term goal is to create an NGO that focuses on sports development in the Caribbean. In the meantime, Taahir is continuing his efforts to expand the Society's programs across the region.