A section of the large crowd listening as??the speakers discuss the way forward in sports.

Barbados should soon have a Strategic Plan for Sports.

This disclosure has come from Minister of Sports, Stephen Lashley, who said the National Sports Council (NSC) was in the process of finalising the policy paper, which would be taken to Cabinet shortly.

He made the comments last evening after a near three-hour consultation with representatives of the 61 local sporting associations and federations at Kensington Oval. The meeting was hosted by the Ministry of Sports in an attempt to hear the plans and challenges of the sporting organisations and their suggestions on where sports need to go.

Mr. Lashley continued: "I want the organisations to be more involved in strategic planning at the levels of the various federations and the associations. I believe that our various sporting groups need to be more focused and involved in a strategic re-visioning of where they are at and where they need to go… If these bodies can firm up their own initiatives, then, of course, we would have a much stronger sporting policy in Barbados.

Minister of Sports, Stephen Lashley, addressing the representatives of the sporting groups, while President of the Barbados Olympic Association, Steve Stoute??(left) and??Director of the National Sports Council, Erskine King, listen attentively.

"We will have continuous dialogue with the associations, including a special session on strategic planning, with a view to determining with the Barbados Olympic Association some specific strategies to get us where we need to go. We have to plan a strategy, but of course we have to do it systemically and on a phased basis."

According to him, Barbados needs to move more aggressively to achieve results at international competitions. "The group agreed we need to provide the framework and infrastructure to allow our athletes to achieve their best. That may not always result in medals, but what it does mean is that it can gauge their performance from meet to meet, and wherever necessary, we can make the kind of interventions to assist them in even getting better," he suggested.

Mr. Lashley argued that sports should not only be seen as a competitive activity, but an engine for social growth and development. "We see sports as an avenue by which we can seek to assist our young people who may not be appropriately directed now," he maintained.

He told the large gathering that Government was still keen on improving the National Stadium and replacing the track, once the funds were forthcoming. He noted that foreign partners were being engaged with a view to gaining access to grant financing to accelerate the work on the facility. "We are having discussions with China and India to improve the current stadium and build an international facility in the not too distant future," he declared.

The Minister reiterated the importance of developing a Sports Development Act and disclosed that his officers would have to explore which models could be used.??saustin@barbados.gov.bb

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