The time has come for a paradigm shift away from the concept of sports as just a pastime in Barbados.

This is the view of Sports Development Officer in the Ministry of Youth, Family and Sports, Stephen Rowe, who said sports and its supporting services should be seen as a viable profession and it was, therefore, necessary to inculcate that culture from the primary school level.

Mr. Rowe made the comments on behalf of the Minister of Sports, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, while addressing the opening of the Joseph Payne Memorial Classic last Saturday, at the National Stadium.

He opined that the "pastime culture" was also reflected in some of the clubs and associations and asked if enhanced results would be achieved if those entities approached sports as a business venture, similar to some overseas organisations.

"This change in approach will not only see our local entities accessing the global billion dollar industry of sports, but will lend to a renewed focus that can be conducive to greater and a more structured participation by our local sports persons and increased sponsorship. The net result can be enhanced personal and socioeconomic benefits towards the development of our nation," Mr. Rowe asserted.

He noted that as Barbados sought to attain the multi-discipline movement of sports to the world stage, exposure of local athletes was essential for their development.

"In this regard," he explained, "the Government of Barbados has embarked on a strategy to facilitate the hosting of world-class events in different disciplines in 2010 and beyond. The proposed development of the Joseph Payne Memorial Classic to a recognised brand that can attract regional and international athletes is commensurate with this strategy, as these events will provide the essential exposure and experience for our local athletes and will be conducive to sports tourism in keeping with another focus of the Ministry."

The Sports Development Officer pointed out that the Joseph Payne Memorial Classic was designed to bring greater visibility, focus and participation in the disciplines of the javelin, discus and shot put. According to him, these efforts were timely, since the island’s results in those areas had not kept pace with achievements in track events. He opined that the competition and similar efforts would stimulate the rebirth of interest in the throws and the advancement of sports.

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