Acting Minister of Youth, Family and Sports, Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner (FP)??

"Sport has much to offer us and it is our responsibility to ensure that we use it optimally."

This observation has come from Acting Minister of Youth, Family and Sports, Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner.?? She was delivering the feature address at the opening of the Barbados Workers’ Union’s 30th anniversary netball tournament at the National Stadium, Waterford, yesterday.

Alluding to the recent success of athlete, Ryan Braithwaite, Senator Sandiford-Garner said: "Sports continues to be an integral part of our lives, and we have witnessed first-hand how its effects have directly impacted on our society and others around the world."

The Acting Sports Minister added that while Barbadians continued to perform admirably on the regional and international stage, the time had come for sports to be repositioned as a productive socio-economic sector and stated that the ministry was acutely aware of this necessity.

Senator Sandiford-Garner pointed out that for some time the preparation of a national sports’ policy and strategic plan was envisaged. This, she stated was to alert the public about the value of sports to the nation and to encourage questions about how persons could and should be involved.

"While the ministry is responsible for the production of the final draft of the document, …We?? are cognisant of the failures of many policy documents and intend to ensure that the national sports policy is effective at the ground level, where it has the greatest effect," she said.

The Senator reaffirmed Government’s commitment to sport and the development of an "optimally designed, low maintenance, multi-purpose facility" to accommodate major indoor sports and add to Barbados’ core of facilities.

She indicated that this would further enhance the nation’s capacity to host major regional and international events, as Barbados sought to "become the event capital of the region and one of the more favoured in the hemisphere".

Mrs. Sandiford-Garner added that "optimisation of resources was essential, if, we as a nation are to reach our potential and operate at maximum capacity". She pointed out that this was true as much for the manufacturing and agricultural sector, as it was for sports.

Speaking about the role of the Union in sports development, the Minister stated that she believed the union was excellently positioned to be a key partner in the execution of a number of government activities which "cut across a diversity of ministries and departments" and pointed to government’s intention to create a closer working relationship with this body in the area of sports.

"The Ministry of Sports is aware of the influence of the Union and intends to fully utilise its reach and expertise to realise some of our organisational goal, whether through collaborative planning or educational exercises to reach thousands of workers who are represented through this institution," she revealed.

Thirteen teams are participating in the tournament. The Barbados Prison Service was adjudged the best team on parade, with Almond Sports and Social Club taking second place and Vitamalt Maple of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, third place.

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