|Minister of Sport, Stephen Lashley, enjoying a game of table tennis at a ‘Dooflicky’ event in Bridgetown in July 2011. (FP)??|
An overwhelming success! That is how the Director of the National Sports Council, Erskine King, has described the road tennis component of the recently concluded Community Sports Programme.
Mr. King said many persons had participated in the road tennis competition and it had received a lot of support from Barbadians. "We had more competitors in 2011 than the inaugural competition [in 2010]. More of the parishes had their own play offs and that made it much better. We were able to spread the numbers as a result of that.
"We had more youngsters participating, but if there is one area we need to improve, [it] is the ladies. All the parishes were not able to produce female players… There are a lot of ladies playing the game, but not coming forward to participate… Some have promised that they will be ready to play in 2012. So, the success of the community sport was clearly with the road tennis, which is an indigenous game," he added.
The NSC Director lauded the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), stating that the live television broadcast of the finals, as well as the video streaming, allowed the game to be seen by a lot of people across the world. "As a result", he continued, "last year and already this year we have had a lot of requests about the rules [of the game] and things of that nature… so, it makes it easier for us to market the game across the world."
Following the tremendous interest in the sport, Mr. King said the Council wanted to see the World Road Tennis Federation website back up, explaining that it would be easier to communicate with those persons who expressed an interest in the game. "[They would be able to go on the website [and] they would see what is happening. To market the game takes money, but if we are able to get the website up, that would be part of our marketing strategy. To move towards having people come to play in what may be considered a World Road Tennis Championships, people must understand the rules and regulations of the game, so those things are integral to the future of having a road championship here in Barbados," he noted.
Basketball and road races are also part of the Community Sports Programme and the Director pointed out that while the final road race was successful, he lamented that the basketball competition was "a bit of a disappointment for us".
According to him, the road races suffered a number of setbacks, including rain and a reduction of competitors. "We were also hampered because we had to move the races around in order not to clash with the Run Barbados series which is [held] the first weekend in December and also not to clash with the Nation’s Fun Ride and Fun Walk. So, we had to be moving, we weren’t consistent every weekend, every Sunday, we had to skip Sunday here and Sunday there and when we skipped, we ran into some serious weather…
"And, what we are hoping to do for the next one [series of road races] is to look at zoning, perhaps three or four parishes together, so we would have less races, but better quality and quantity [races]. So, we may end up with three or four races before the final rather than trying to have 12 races before the final," he explained.
In addition to starting the next series earlier, Mr. King promised that more categories for prizes would be added, including for the oldest and youngest competitors. "We are going to involve the schools a lot more; we may look at a primary school category, as well as a secondary school category…So, we are hopeful that we could do quite well in terms of the road races," he said.
With reference to the basketball tournament, the Director explained that the Council would have to relook that sport to see if they would continue with it or introduce another discipline.
However, he underscored the importance of the Community Sports Programme, saying it was here to stay. He said discussions would have to follow about the number of disciplines, so a determination could be made as to which ones would be pursued.
"We have had tremendous feedback, positive feedback from the communities on what we are trying to do," Mr. King disclosed.
He thanked the various companies for sponsoring the programme and urged others to come on board. "We need more sponsors because it is not easy or cheap to run the community sports," he emphasised.
The sponsors were CBC, Harris Paints, Banks Barbados Breweries Ltd, Cooperators General Insurance, the City of Bridgetown Credit Union, ADC Building and Maintenance, Cave Shepherd, Tropical Computers, Hilton Barbados and the Barbados Beach Club.
This sports programme has been designed to bring communities closer together, as well as encourage friendly rivalry and wholesome activities in districts across Barbados. So, all of us who can, should support this NSC initiative, confident that it would assist in creating a healthier and fitter society, as well as strengthen bonds within our communities.