Minister of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment, John King, officially launched the Under 16 Junior Road Tennis Tournament on Saturday. (S. Forde-Craigg/BGIS)

Barbados’ first Under 16 Junior Road Tennis Tournament was held at the Pelican Craft Centre, on Saturday.

Acting Minister of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment, John King, in his remarks, to officially launch the tournament, expressed how pleased he was that the Barbados Road Tennis Association (BRTA) and Island Fitness Centre had partnered to host the tournament.

Minister King, who has responsibility for culture, pointed out: “It is important that road tennis, as a part of our culture, remains the most important sport possible. We got cricket from our colonial masters and we mastered that, but this is the one game that we can boast that we as Barbadians created, and it is important that you recognise that fact, every possible day. This is our sport.

“And so, our young people are going to be the ones who are going to bring the new innovations; they are going to be the ones who are going to take the game to the rest of the world and hopefully for many years, … so let’s try and get out into the communities and inspire as many of our young people as humanly possible to get involved in this sport.”

The Minister noted that not only sporting groups but also cultural and social groups need to find and make use of opportunities that could bring positive activities for persons within the community, especially for the youth. “I’m a firm believer that once we get back into the communities, and that those persons within the communities are part and parcel of whatever the drive is, that success is definitely guaranteed,” Mr. King said.

BRTA’s Vice President, Frederick Blunt, pointed out that the tournament, being jointly hosted, was the first of its kind and a great achievement.

He continued: “This is all part of the plan of the Barbados Road Tennis Association, to encourage the young players in Barbados because our mandate is to develop road tennis in Barbados, and it is our intention to start with the youth. And this is the first of many tournaments of this kind that we’ll be having here, and other places throughout Barbados.”

Chief Executive Officer, Island Fitness Centre, Dave Waldron, told those in attendance, including parents of the participants, that his organisation would fully support the BRTA in developing a sport that is “strictly Bajan”, and has the potential to be a world-class sport.

He told the parents that now, more than ever, “we really need to be careful of the messages that we send, not by our mouths, but by our actions and our body language and everything, to our children”.

Sixteen boys and four girls participated in the tournament. They were drawn from neighbourhoods across Barbados, including Haynesville, Brittons Hill and Bush Hall. Deontae Chapman and Ahijah Blunt faced off in the boys’ final, but due to poor lighting, they shared the first place. Kezia Blunt won the girls’ title. Her competitor was Taju Carrington.

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