A delegation of five young wrestlers and three officials left Barbados this evening to compete at the Cadet and Junior Pan-American Championships scheduled to be held from June 9 to 13, in Oaxtepec, Mexico.
Minister of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment, Dwight Sutherland, in greeting the team yesterday at the Grantley Adams International Airport, commended the Barbados Wrestling Association and the young athletes for reaching a standard that allowed them to compete at the international level.
“I want at the outset to thank the Barbados Wrestling Association whose focus is on youth development, whose focus is on building self-esteem and leaders, and also building discipline within these young men and women…. I feel honoured to be here to witness these young gentlemen and women between the ages of 15 and 20, leaving to pursue their dream of being a professional wrestler,” Minister Sutherland said.
In addition, the Minister of Youth and Sports pointed out that sport is one of the avenues through which persons can earn a living and a career.
“Gone are the days when we see sports as being just for social and recreational purposes, but sports have its vital role to play within the economic landscape of this country…and this Government will do all that it can to provide opportunities and to support athletes who want to pursue a career in any sporting discipline and become global citizens in the sporting world,” Mr. Sutherland stated.
He also suggested that sports could be one of the areas for the country to address societal issues and youth deviance.
Mr. Sutherland said: “I believe that four out of every five living young persons should be enrolled in some sporting discipline or some developmental activity or some youth group, that is the only way we will begin to solve some of our challenges.”
He revealed that in his interaction with the five wrestling athletes, he noticed their “winning” attitude and that they already viewed themselves as champions.
Going off to compete are: 15-year old Makayla Browne – The Ellerslie School; 15-year old Adrian Maynard – The Alleyne School; 18-year old Keon Sobers and Shavere Tempro from the Barbados Youth Advance Corp; and 20-year-old Deshon Skeete from the Learning Centre. They will be seeking to qualify for the inaugural Junior Pan American Games, scheduled to be held in Columbia in November, 2021.
The team will be accompanied by President of the Barbados Wrestling Association, Rollins Alleyne; Coach, Ronald Phillip; and Coach Yaima Payne, who is the first Barbadian representative to win gold at the United States of America Wrestling Masters Open Beach event which was recently held in Jacksonville, Florida.
Both coaches said that despite the challenge of not being able to practise as much as they would have liked, due to the COVID-19 protocols in place for contact sports, they believe that the athletes are ready for the task ahead and quite capable of medalling.
Over 300 athletes and 20 countries will be competing at the event, and Barbados will be the only Caribbean country to be represented.