???It is time that we formally and officially recognise the importance of the athletic programmes within our schools.???

This was the sentiment expressed by Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth, Stephen Lashley, as he delivered remarks recently at a motivational session at the Wildey Gymnasium.

The motivational session, which was sponsored by Scotia Bank and the National Sports Council, gave participants the opportunity to hear from Former Olympian Carl Lewis and Associate Head Coach of the University of Houston, William Blackburn, who conducted a sports clinic.

Speaking to hundreds of young athletes, parents, guardians and coaches, the Minister said that at least two schools needed to be identified and recognized as ???schools of athletic fame???. He added that not only do the schools need to be identified, but they must also be properly financed.

???I believe that we have to be able to have these two schools of sporting excellence, and ???ensure that they are appropriately funded to give that outlet to all of our aspiring athletes,??? he stated.

While pledging continuous support, Mr. Lashley added that the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth and Government would be redoubling their efforts ???to always support our athletes in the quest for glory???.

Mr. Lashley also expressed the desire to have a long term partnership with Mr. Lewis, Mr. Blackburn and the University of Houston. In beginning this process, the Minister revealed that the former Olympian and a small team from the University of Houston would be returning to Barbados to conduct a coaching for excellence workshop, aimed at enhancing the skills of a wide range of coaches in Barbados.

Also present at the motivational session was Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, Ronald Jones. Remarking on past approaches to sports in Barbados, Mr. Jones admitted that ???we feel that we have neglected this area of human endeavor too long without giving it the necessary support that it needs to have???.

Noting the importance of investing in the nation???s athletes, Mr. Jones said that as the Government acknowledges the need to support and encourage athletes, a proposal to fund sports scholarships would be brought before the Cabinet of Barbados ???in a matter of weeks???.


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