Minister of Creative Economy, Culture and Sports John King, believes that a “total reboot” in sports is timely and necessary.
Speaking to the Barbados Government Information Service on the heels of the recent gold medal performance by Barbadian athlete Shane Brathwaite at the Pan American Games, Mr. King stated: “I think one of the things that we need to do is to completely overhaul how we look and treat sports and get back into the communities to keep unearthing new talent.”
He suggested that this could be done through the school system and through community efforts. “One of the things that has to happen is that we need to have more of a scholastic type of approach where you must have dedicated coaches within the school system, especially at the primary school level and extended all the way across the board. If you start at a very young age, you have that discipline, you have that focus and you also have the regimes for good nutrition, health and all the other things that are necessary. Then you put that in an educational frame work.”
The Sports Minister added that there were also plans to expand the programmes of the National Sports Council (NSC), and suggested that Barbados should follow in the footsteps of neighbouring St. Lucia, which had created its own sports academy. He believed that introducing such a measure would not only assist athletes during their careers but also when their athletic careers ended.
“We need to involve The University of the West Indies (UWI) and the Barbados Olympic Association (BOA) along with the NSC, in having a tripartite approach to developing our athletes.
The UWI has been churning out plenty of well-educated students in Sports Management, in Sports Medicine, Sports Nutrition, so we have to find a way to incorporate them into the programmes that we do. We also have to be able to look across the waters at our neighbours and see where you can hire or in some instances acquire other expertise that you might not readily find on the island,” he maintained.
Mr. King revealed plans to work closely with the Ministry of Education to ensure that sports plays a more pivotal role in schools.
“This Ministry, along with a number of other entities like the BOA, has been meeting to discuss various ways of how we can work together (with the Ministry of Education) to deliver these things. We have looked at afterschool programmes; and programmes that go in to the communities to fill in the gaps where sometimes parents are away, and students are left alone, so we are currently working on that.”
However, he cautioned that these changes would take time to implement, as he envisaged a “total shift from what we have been doing for a very long time”. He said while his Ministry had plans to develop sports in Barbados, this year the focus would be on laying the groundwork.
Minister King commended Shane Brathwaite for his outstanding accomplishment and pointed to his achievement as an example of what a small country like Barbados could do.
“We don’t have cutting edge technology like other people, but what we do have we have, made such fantastic use of and that it is unbelievable…Shane is a proud example of what this country has been able to achieve for centuries and I want him to be an inspiration to others coming up.
“I think that once we have in our mindset that Barbados is a place of excellence and that word is not just a word but what we aspire to in everything that we do, then results like this will become the norm,” he affirmed.