Sports in Barbados must be seen as more than just a recreational activity; it can also be used to empower and enfranchise the youth.
Minister of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment, Dwight Sutherland, made this point recently as he declared the inaugural Errol Holder T10 Classic tournament open, at the Ipswich Sports and Cultural Club in Eden Lodge, St. Michael.
Mr. Sutherland noted that years ago, sports was mainly used as a form of recreational activity, but today, it must be seen “as one of the avenues through which we can solve some of our social challenges, such as mental health, violence and NCDs”.
In addition, the Minister said he believed that sports could be used to develop elite athletes who can earn a living from playing professional sports and, in turn, provide for their families.
Noting that youth development is fundamental to Barbados’ future, Mr. Sutherland emphasised that investing in the country’s youth is critical, and even though playing a sport and winning is good, greater focus must be placed on utilising sports as an avenue for developing “good global citizens”, who are well rounded mentally, physically, socially and economically.
In order to achieve that goal of developing good global citizens and professional athletes, as well as a sporting economy, Minister Sutherland suggested that greater emphasis must be placed on sporting programmes within our schools and communities.
“We have to bring more academies to this country…we need mentors for our young people and we need to encourage our young people to see that through sports they can earn a living,” he added.
Member of the tournament’s organising committee, Wayne Holder, shared that it was created out of a need to “provide some kind of activity and opportunity” for the young ‘B’ team players of the cricket club, who normally would not get to play in local first-class cricket matches.
Errol Holder, the first captain of the Ipswich cricket club and in whose honour the tournament was being held, was described as an ‘unsung hero’ by Mr. Sutherland for his contribution to youth and sports in the Eden Lodge community. To get the tournament started, the Minister bowled the first ball to Mr. Holder.