Many Barbadians seemed disinterested in this year’s National Senior Games but the event was still a success and is on a growth path, says coordinator Rawle Clarke.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY Clarke said the state of the Barbadian economy and the spate of events held over the weekend were the reasons for the noticeable decline in spectator interest at the National Senior Games at the National Stadium.
In the past thousands of Barbadians have flocked to the National Stadium to cheer the nation’s senior citizens as they participated in various track and field events. However, this year there was a modest crowd in the Louis Lynch Stand and a sprinkling of spectators in the other stands.
But according to Clarke, Barbadians were selecting the events they attend carefully and this had led to a fall-off in the spectators at the games.
“Barbadians are spending their money carefully and this is one of the reason why the numbers have dropped for the games. There were also several other events held over the weekend so people had several places to go,” Clarke said.
But he added that despite the drop in numbers there were several things that occurred at the games that indicated they were on a forward path.
“There were several highlights of the games which showed that they are on a growth path despite the low turn- out. A record number of 300 people took part in this year’s games; over forty records were broken; and for the first time we had athletes from overseas competing in the games. So despite the low turn-out in spectators these were some of the positive aspects of the games,” Clarke said.
He stated that 24 athletes from the United States and Trinidad and Tobago took part in the games this year and all of them were impressed with the standard of competition and said they would be back next year.
“Barbados has a reputation for attracting visitors to its shores and I am sure that this [the senior games] can play its part in bringing tourists to the island,” Clarke said.
He stated that the games had a diverse role to play and could also be a key factor in making the nation fit.
“If our seniors are making an effort to be aware of their health and are getting up early on mornings and are walking, running and are keeping themselves fit this should have a positive impact on the nation. A lot of our younger people are already walking, running and going to the gym. If they are being joined by their parents and grandparents, we will have a fitter and stronger nation,” Clarke stressed.
Clarke pointed out that this year a number of initiatives were implemented to make the games more appealing to the public.
“We had four zones which gave members of the public the opportunity to support the zone in which they lived and an additional day was added to the games,” Clarke said.
He noted that there were several more initiatives that would be added to next year’s games which he was sure would lure fans back to the games.