Minister of Youth, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, greeting netball coach, Shakira Shorey, while Member of Parliament for the area, Kenneth Best, Principal Youth Development Officer, Colin Clarke (left), and Senior Youth Commissioner for the Eastern Zone, David Yarde, look on.

Government’s National Sports Training Programme will be expanded during the next financial year to allow more children to be exposed to the various disciplines and for a longer period.

This disclosure has come from Minister of Youth, Family and Sports, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, who said officials in her Ministry were reviewing the programmes it offered.

She made the comments yesterday after visiting the hard court at the Ivy, where a group of netballers were being trained by their coach, Shakira Shorey.

Netball on their minds: Minister of Youth, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, speaking to 10-year-old Abigail Browne, one of the young people in the programme.??

Dr. Byer Suckoo described the sports training programme as crucial to this island’s development at this time. She explained: "So while we have budgeted for 40 hours of contact between the community and the coaches, we have decided that even if we have to cut back on some other areas that are not as impactful, that this particular programme would be increased to as much as 80 and perhaps over 100 hours of contact because of the benefits we see accruing from it…

"Our coaches have been excellent. They have worked, even after their 40 hours have expired."

The National Sports Training Programme was started in 1996 by the Division of Youth Affairs and caters to persons between the ages of nine and 20. For two evenings during a 10-week period, the young people are exposed to football, netball, cricket, basketball, volley ball, lawn tennis and track and field training.

The Minister noted that after undergoing the training, some young people had actually formed clubs and teams in their communities. She asserted that the initiative would assist in fostering the community spirit, while keeping young people away from vices.

Principal Youth Development Officer, Colin Clarke, pointed out that the programme started last December and would conclude with a national sports rally at the Deighton Griffith School on Saturday, March 13. He revealed that 283 persons from the central zone, 501 from the eastern, 210 from the northern and 332 from the southern zone had registered for the programme.????saustin@barbados.gov.bb

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