Prime Minister Mia Mottley has identified beach football and road tennis as two sports which, when expanded, have the potential to position Barbados as a leader in the region.
Ms. Mottley expressed this view as Government seeks to create new opportunities to generate economic activity as part of the thrust of the newly created Ministry of Creative Economy, Culture and Sports. She made the comments on Tuesday evening, when FIFA’s Secretary General, Fatma Samoura, paid her a courtesy call at Government Headquarters.
The Prime Minister said beach football had great year-round tourism potential and the large flat beaches of Barbados made it perfect for this increasingly popular sport. It was noted that Senegal and Brazil were leaders in the area of beach football, with both countries having national beach soccer teams.
She reiterated her Government’s commitment to ensuring young people have a bright future, in which they can grow and thrive. “I want to see our football stars, of which there are many budding ones in Barbados, become global citizens….
“In addition, I want to see the creation of a regional professional football league with training and development as its focus,” she stated.
She underscored the importance of training and discipline for footballers so they would not engage in bad practices that could ruin their health and even sully their reputation, thus affecting their careers.
Ms. Mottley expressed the view that the community had to own its talent and suggested that because of the narrow population base, it was necessary for the corporate sector to give vital and ongoing support to the sport.
Ms. Samoura spoke about the common values that Barbados and FIFA shared regarding the youth and their role in advancing the economy. She also discussed the issue of fighting discrimination across sectors and being able to seek sustainable long-term employment using football as the vehicle.
During the talks, Ms. Mottley also spoke about the need for an upgraded and functional National Stadium, as Barbados seeks to competitively position itself in advancing the sport of football, as well as the realisation of fast ferry service so teams could travel unhindered to various Caribbean countries for sporting events.
Those attending the courtesy call included Minister of Creative Economy, Culture and Sports, John King; Minister in the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Marsha Caddle; FIFA’s Director of Member Associations for Africa and the Caribbean, Véron Mosengo-Omba; President of the Barbados Football Association, Randy Harris; and FIFA’s Regional Manager, Marlon Glean.