Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth, Stephen Lashley, has lauded the inaugural Soccerex Forum, and hailed it as a crossover into sports branding that would eventually lead to more focus being placed on sports tourism.

Speaking to media this afternoon following a brief tour at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Mr. Lashley said from his Ministry???s perspective, the Forum gave them the exposure they needed to combine strategies in terms of sports tourism and heritage.

???Heritage is a very big part of it because along with sports, we want to be able to package our heritage, particularly the UNESCO-inscribed site of Bridgetown and its Garrison which needs to be now marketed appropriately with sports. I think it is an excellent match,??? he added.

Stating that his Ministry also had a booth at the Forum, the Minister said he was impressed with what he had seen and coupled with the publicity generated, it had given Barbados a ???kind of awareness within the international community???.

He further added that his Ministry was looking at positioning Barbados as a sports destination for training, and they were readying for the Rio Olympics in 2016. One of the things they wanted to achieve, he said, was to promote Barbados as a training facility in various disciplines.

???We are doing some work very shortly with the help of the Chinese to completely refurbish the Gymnasium and to actually make it more presentable as a venue for various sports. So, this gives us a good avenue for doing that, especially with the staff of the Gymnasium here promoting the venue,??? the Minister outlined.

He also noted that he had been in talks to discuss the redevelopment of the National Stadium, as he did not feel that discussions should only centre on attracting international sporting events to Barbados without placing focus on its redevelopment.

???I have been able to talk to a number of persons who are quite interested in having a conversation about the redevelopment of the Stadium and we hope to be able to move forward, providing that we can get the necessary financing. So, Soccerex has to be seen within that context and we are certainly positioning Barbados as a sports tourism destination???and also as a place that sports of all genres can be played,??? he underscored.

The Soccerex Forum concluded today.

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