A strategic plan for sports in Barbados is currently being developed and the Board of the National Sports Council (NSC) expects to have the document in its hands by mid-year.

This disclosure has come from Chairman of the NSC, Henry Inniss, who said the Council had commissioned the University of the West Indies, namely, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles and Don Lockerbie, to formulate the plan, which would be discussed later with the staff and stakeholders of the NSC.

Mr. Inniss explained that Sir Hilary, a former chairman of the Council, had begun work in the area and the Board was hoping to build on his experience in strategic planning.
“The first draft has been prepared and submitted to the Board. It was intended to paint a broad picture of what could be done, so we went back to the University of the West Indies and asked them to narrow the scope of that document.  The first stage in the plan will be to conduct a Facilities Audit.

“The audit is not just to give us a comprehensive view of our facilities, but also to assess the work required to bring them up to international standard. The Audit will also identify the need for additional facilities in areas of the country where they are sparse.  So, we will have the audit done as a first step, and from there, we are going to move to further develop nine sports,” he revealed.

The sports identified are athletics, body-building, boxing, cricket, cycling, football, netball, swimming and volleyball. The Council is of the view that these are the sports that are most likely to bring glory to Barbados.

Mr. Inniss said that the plan is to develop centres of excellence for each of these disciplines in an effort to develop world-class athletes, coaches and administrators so as to build Barbados’ capacity to consistently deliver on the international stage.

“This [list of sports] is dynamic, it is not fixed in stone. With [Ivorn] McKnee winning the Sports Personality of the Year title for 2008, that has pushed us to approach the Weightlifting Association with a view to assisting them in the development of a strategic plan on the way forward for their organisation and the discipline of weight-lifting.

The Chairman stressed, however, that the NSC was committed to all the sporting bodies, especially since its mandate was to get the population to pursue active and healthy lifestyles.  He promised that funding would continue for the other fifty affiliate associations, but not to the same extent as would be the case for the nine chosen.  

“We will have to seek ways of partnering with the corporate sector since the cost of achieving international competitiveness is very high and government can only do so much,” Mr. Inniss stated.

Meanwhile, as part of the plan, a model used in Australia and several European countries is being examined. It calls for an advisory body to administer sports and under its aegis will be an Institute of Sports, which has affiliate organisations that do the specific work required to take athletes to international standards.

“That kind of model would certainly require a different approach, another organisation that sits below the National Sports Council, which may even draw on a number of the staff of the National Sports Council and be structured differently so it can cater to the various needs of those sports,” Mr. Inniss observed.

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