Minister of Creative Economy, Culture and Sports, John King, has pledged to place greater emphasis on the development of sports in Barbados.
Speaking at the Barbados Olympic Association’s awards and dinner, Minister King alluded to the fact that in the past sports was seen only for its recreational value, and focus was mainly on its health and social benefits.
He noted, however, that today, people were also recognizing its economic potential.
He lamented that many well-educated, aspiring, young athletes were forced to choose between following their dreams of having a career in sports or academic training, in order to afford a decent way of living. This, he said, would no longer be the case.
“It is the objective of the Government that no young athlete should have to make that painful decision. It is envisaged that in order for Barbados to develop a sustainable, high-performance system aimed at producing and maintaining world-class athletes and a viable sporting industry, there should be a nation-wide project designed to encourage young Barbadians to join in life-long sports activities.
“This can be achieved by expanding school-based sports programmes, providing the necessary support for community-based sports activities and greater emphasis on training a cadre of world-class coaches, athletes and sports professionals,” Mr. King posited.
He also indicated Government’s intention to establish sports as a professional career option for young persons as a major revenue and foreign exchange generating pillar of the Barbadian economy.
“This can only be achieved by further facilitating the establishment of Barbados as the Caribbean’s premier location for regional, international and semi-professional tournaments, training camps, sporting exhibitions, sports conferences, sports science and injury rehabilitation,” the Sports Minister stated.
Minister King expressed his hope that with a renewed focus on sports development in the communities, high dividends, with respect to a reduction in the rate of growth in chronic non-communicable diseases and indeed crime, would be achieved.
Sports is also expected to play a key role with the implementation of Government’s Vision 2020 and its flagship project, We Gatherin’ 2020.
“With We Gatherin’ 2020, the sport sector is expected to be a major driver in the development and implementation of various events and initiatives at the community and national level. A yearlong calendar of events planned by the national associations, community groups and other sports stakeholders will be rolled out in the various communities across the island,” he said.
At the end of the night, several of Barbados’ top athletes were feted for their contribution to sport in Barbados.
Among those taking the top prizes were Shane Brathwaite, who won the BOA/Barbados Lottery and the Senior Male Athlete awards, and received a cheque for his performance at the PAN AM games 2019; Zane Maloney, who received the coveted President’s and Junior Male Athlete of the Year awards; Cyclist Amber Joseph, who was named Female Athlete of the Year and Junior Female Athlete of the Year; and Megan Best, for her performance in Squash.