Government plans to invest more funding in sports programmes, in order to create more world class and elite athletes.
Minister of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment, Dwight Sutherland, shared these plans, during a courtesy call on Tuesday with Olympic swimming athletes, Alex Sobers and Danielle Titus; Barbados Olympic Association Inc. (BOA) officials, and President of the Barbados Aquatic Sports Association (BASA), Cheryl Lady Forde, at the Ministry, Sky Mall, Haggatt Hall, St. Michael.
Minister Sutherland disclosed: “The Government has recognised the need to invest more funding, in our athletes…. I took a paper to Cabinet to have more focus on emerging and elite athletes and for us to allocate more funding to them.
“It was approved, and you will see in the near future more funding from the lottery being allocated to elite and emerging athletes. And we’ve created the mechanism and the framework that this will be done because we recognise the value that sports bring not only to this country, but to the individuals.”
He also revealed that this Thursday, a paper would be taken to Cabinet regarding sports development policy. He said the paper speaks to the serious nature of building out sports not only as a key economic pillar, but as a social pillar, to help solve social problems within our communities, whereby young people can have the opportunity to develop a career in sports.
The Minister further disclosed that Government intends to form a partnership with the Ministry of Sports in Jamaica, to offer Barbadian athletes the opportunity to train and interact with some of the best athletes within the region.
Mr. Sutherland also highlighted the importance of mental health in sports, and stated that in order for athletes to be successful, they need good leadership and to surround themselves with positive people. He said more focus would be placed, going forward, on “good coaching, training facilities, good nutrition and opportunities to participate at international meets”.
BOA’s Vice President, Cameron Burke; Secretary General, Erskine Simmons, and Lady Forde, all agreed with the Minister, and stressed that in order for athletes to medal at regional and international sports meets, certain tools must be made available, including having world class training facilities, high performance coaches and physiotherapists. They also called for journalists to be responsible in writing their newspaper articles, which can affect the mental well-being of athletes.
In congratulating 22-year-old Alex Sobers and 19-year-old Danielle Titus on their recent efforts at the Tokyo Olympics, Minister Sutherland told the two swimmers that they both “have what it takes to become world champions and to compete at another three or four Olympics”.
“You have graced the world stage, and people are watching you; you now have to become ambassadors not only in the pool, but outside of the pool. Be disciplined in your quest to become the world’s greatest swimmers, and don’t lose your focus; don’t allow being an Olympian to change who you are; remain humble and put God first,” he encouraged.