This morning, Barbadian athletes from several sporting disciplines were allowed to voice their concerns, during a National Athletes’ Forum held at the Wildey Gymnasium Auditorium.
Engaging the young athletes was Minister of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment, Charles Griffith, who assured them that Government was committed to channelling efforts to improve sports in Barbados.
Minister Griffith pointed out that a few weeks ago the Cabinet of Barbados approved a National Sports Policy which he described as the “roadmap” to how the ministry would treat sports in Barbados with a particular focus on 11 sporting disciplines in the first phase.
He said that it was with this in mind that the forum was created to hear the concerns and propose suggestions for the way forward from young athletes as well as coaches.
“This consultation today was a means of us at the ministry being able to plan to use your comments and your input to help us as it relates to how we treat to our roadmap. All efforts will be put in place to develop our athletes, … and rest assured that all of those persons who function within the ministry are totally committed to bringing about change, … to ensure that your future is secure,” Minister Griffith told those present.
Athletes sharing their concerns and suggestions included recent CARIFTA gold medallist Fynn Armstrong, Christopher Pollard, Shadae Worrell, Kevon Hinds and Jake Chee-A-Tow. The athletes expressed concern about a lack of funding and resources, lack of facilities and a lack of exposure (events to compete in).
The Youth and Sports Minister agreed that there was a need for more sporting meets to help develop and expose the athletes.
He also disclosed that the Ministry had met with the architect for the construction of the national stadium, and discussions were held on how soon construction can begin.
Also revealed was that the Ministry would be providing tutoring in SATs, which is a multiple-choice, pencil-and-paper test created and administered by College Boards for athletes who are applying for scholarships overseas.
“In addition to that, I’ve asked the National Sports Council to create a portal where all of those athletes who are doing times that can get them overseas, we can put them on the portal and then coaches don’t have to come to Barbados to scout but they will have a facility that they can just go and see what times in whatever discipline it is that the athletes are doing.
“Because of that, we have purchased six video cameras to make life easier for the coaches at the National Sports Council to ensure that they can capture the information in quick time and post on the portal, so these are some of the new initiatives that we’re putting in place to benefit our athletes,” Minister Griffith disclosed.
He emphasised that Government was seeking to put every measure in place to create pathways to support athletes’ development going forward.
Also present to hear and respond to the athletes’ concerns were Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Yolande Howard; National Sports Council (NSC) Director, Neil Murrell; Deputy Director, NSC, Emmerson Bascombe; Sports Development Officer, Stephen Rowe; and Sports Psychologist and Senior Tutor at the Barbados Community College, June Caddle.