Defending champions Ellerton will have to bring their “A” game if they are to repeat as champions of the HIV/ AIDS Block Draughts Tournament for a second straight year.
This is because the defending champs are set to face off against 16 teams in the tournament, which is double the number of teams that competed last year, organisers have revealed.
During the launch of the second annual edition of the tournament, Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth, Stephen Lashley welcomed the community based event, noting it was a tournament that has brought communities together.
He said one of the tournament’s objectives was to promote harmony and reduce gang-related violence on the blocks.
“Liming on the block does not have to be seen as a negative activity but it can be seen as a positive, provided that those people on the blocks see themselves as leaders in terms of positive behaviours,” said Lashley.
“The blocks across Barbados have been branded as bad places; places where people get involved in criminal activity, but without in any way making judgments. And what this programme has shown is that our blocks can be used as a tool for purposeful and positive development where we can turn that spectre of negativity around.”
Lashley also said the tournament served a two-fold purpose, as the country sought to develop more outstanding draughts players in the vein of the competition organizer and World Go-As-You-Please champ, Ronald “Suki” King.
“I have to say that this programme is also meant to be an incubator for our young people to get to know the game of draughts,” Lashley pointed out.
“I am sure that Suki would agree with me that he would like to know that when he hangs up his gloves that we have in Barbados a cadre of young people who would be able to take his place and not just as a player but as a world champion.”
Not only have the numbers increased this year but so has the prize money. The winner of this year’s competition
will take home $1 500 compared to $800 last year while the econd place finisher will receive $1000.
Third place attracts $700 and fourth place, $500, while the Most Valuable Player will receive $200.
The 16 teams have been split into four zones, with the top two from each zone clashing against each other in the quarter-finals. The tournament gets going next Monday and runs until January 13, and will be contest at four venues – Lammings, Haynesville, Staple Grove and Stephen’s Hill.