|Minister of Sports, Stephen Lashley (FP)|
This island’s Minister of Sports, Stephen Lashley, has lauded the University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill Campus, for "internationalising" its sports programme, proffering the view that it is an opportunity to create an export "product" to earn valuable foreign exchange for Barbados.
He gave the kudos today during a press conference at UWI to launch a Sports Management Certificate which will start next week, as well as a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Sports Science, which will begin in September 2013.
Mr. Lashley stated: "We need to have students coming to Cave Hill, as well as athletes, so they can experience our high performance facilities. When they come, they will bring the foreign exchange that we need, and I think it is crucial because it represents the shift in our economic planning.
"We have to understand the power of sports and the power of education as a product. We have an excellent product of education in Barbados and we need to let the world know about it…It is what other universities are doing."
The Minister said he was "very happy" the University had taken the approach that the area of sports was important. He continued: "For many years we have seen sports only within the context of fun and games, an activity that you will participate in on the field and then you will go home afterwards…while the rest of the world was speeding along and seeing it as a science…
"The management of sports is fast becoming a very key and lucrative area…It is a very deliberate and precise career, requiring specific skills and I am happy that we are moving in that direction."
Mr. Lashley expressed the view that sports must rapidly become an industry in Barbados and young people need to be shown the exciting opportunities that are available.
He underscored the importance of sports and cultural industries, saying many young people were interested in those areas. "Across the world, if you examine any of the international reports in relation to the GDP input and impact of sports and culture on the balance sheet of each country, they are now being seen as a tremendous growth area and …we need to move in this direction in Barbados," he surmised.
Principal of Cave Hill Campus, Sir Hilary Beckles, noted that with the launch of the academic programmes, the University had entered the third phase of its strategic plan to establish itself as the premier campus in the Caribbean for sporting excellence.
He pointed out that Cave Hill would network with some of the finest sports studies universities in the world to deliver excellent sports programmes for students in the region and further afield.