Minister of Sports, Stephen Lashley, presents outstanding athlete Antonio Mascoll with his scroll of participation during a ceremony at Ilaro Court.
(G. Brewster/BGIS)

Government has reaffirmed its commitment to the development of youth and sports.

During a reception last Saturday night at Ilaro Court to honour the Barbados 2011 CARIFTA Team, Minister of Sports, Stephen Lashley, reiterated that government "is moving full speed ahead" to commence the relaying of the new track at the National Stadium immediately after this year’s Crop Over celebrations.

Mr. Lashley told his audience, which included Prime Minister Freundel Stuart: "It’s because of all our athletes that we set aside some $2 million in this year’s Estimates to ensure that the track is improved.

"I am sure that the swim team will also be pleased to learn that during a recent meeting of some local stakeholders in sports, the discussions included proposals for an Olympic-standard pool as part of a new multi-discipline sports complex in Barbados."??

He added that the regional administrators of sports had recently pledged to accelerate the pace of collaboration to further improve athletics within the individual countries.

The Minister gave the assurance that this cooperation within the Caribbean would redound to the benefit of the athletes, since it would mean greater access to training and competition.??

"We also expect that very soon there will be a meeting of CARICOM Ministers of Sports to review the strategies for the advancement of sports in the Caribbean. These developments are geared toward ensuring that you are afforded the requisite enabling facilities to reach your full potential and that you receive the essential exposure to high level competitions through the frequent hosting of regional and international championships.

"This multi-faceted approach is yet another plank in the strategy of developing our sport tourism industry, while expanding the options for Barbadians to undertake sports-related professions," Mr. Lashley declared.??

Stressing that it was important to acknowledge the efforts of young people in every sphere of their sporting activity, he underscored the need for tangible forms of recognition and appreciation.

While congratulating the athletes, swimmers, officials and other contributors, Mr. Lashley thanked them for their commitment and pursuit of excellence, stating that both were worthy of emulation by all young persons in all aspects of their lives.

He continued: "The fact that you [athletes and swimmers] were able to maintain the balance in your academics and sports, while excelling in both areas, is testimony that goal setting, hard work, a positive resolve and dedication can be extremely rewarding."

Noting that they had won 75 medals, namely 30 gold, 22 silver and 23 bronze, the Minister expressed the view they had distinguished themselves as "worthy ambassadors and made all Barbados proud".

Mr. Lashley also praised the coaches, administrators, teachers, parents and guardians, while thanking the sponsors for seeing the importance of investing in the development of youth. "Efforts such as these not only contribute to the success of the participating teams, but have the ripple effect of stimulating the desire to excel… We look forward to your continued support and that of the greater corporate Barbados," he stressed.

During the evening, all the athletes and swimmers received scrolls for their participation at this year’s CARIFITA competitions and were serenaded by the Barbados National Youth Orchestra.


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