Barbados needs to make sports a full fledged industry, says Minister of Sports Stephen Lashley.
His comment came during a reception held for the Youth Olympics delegation which will be participating in the second Summer Games in Nanjing on August 16. Lashley told those gathered at the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China yesterday evening that sports was basically one of those key areas which Government wanted to see developed in the interest of young people and the country as a whole.
“The importance of sports within the context of Barbados really cannot be underestimated and certainly we in the ministry have indicated that sports is basically one of those key areas in which we want to see the development of our young people. But sports must become in Barbados a key instrument for economic development and further the diversification plan for the Barbados economy,” he said.
The minister gave a few ideas on where Barbados needed to focus.
“What we have to do now is to narrow our focus on some key areas of sport and I believe we have a competitive advantage, and to then present a plan of action designed in a way that can be funded to ensure that you can actually achieve that area. I believe we know what those areas are, we know that we are good in certain areas and we know we can develop in those areas. But in order to have a track record we have to move faster in ensuring that we could accelerate our strategic focus.
“We are certainly committed and determined to ensure that they are developed; not saying that we are going to leave out any areas but what I am saying is that going forward we have to earmark those key areas of sporting endeavor at least in a two to three-year period so that we can actually devise a more robust strategic plan to ensure that we can go out there in the wide world and excel and bring glory not only to oneself but ultimately to Barbados.”
Lashley told the audience that while being part of a delegation to China some time ago, they were engaged in a number of discussions that included looking at coaching resources and sporting equipment in order to deepen more opportunities for Barbadian athletes.
He wished those travelling to Nanjing well and at the same time congratulated those who participated in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Scotland and stated that he was pleased with the team’s performance.
“Whether or not our athletes medalled, once you have gone into competition and you wear the colours of your country proudly you will always have my full support as I believe you should always have the full support of all Barbadians. And therefore when you go out there think of the fact that you have the full support of your country from the minister down,” Lashley said.
Chinese ambassador Wang Ke said she believed that the talented young athletes from all over the world would be encouraged by the slogan for the games of “Share the games, share of dreams”. Wang Ke said she expected them to compete fairly in all 28 sports and experience other cultures and make the Nanjing Youth Olympic Games a stage for the youth to show their health, happiness and growth.
“Both Chinese and Barbadians are sports-loving people. The martial arts and Tia Chi of China are broadly of interest [to] Barbadians while cricket, the sport of Barbados, could be well introduced to the Chinese people. The two countries should promote the exchanges to learn from each other to benefit both sides,” Wang Ke said.
Athletes representing track and field and swimming will attend the Youth Olympics. Among those are Tristan Evelyn who will be the flag bearer, Rivaldo Leacock, Michael Nicholls, Ramarco Thompson and Sade Williams in athletics, while swimming will be represented by Christian Selby, Sabrina Holder and Hannah Gill.
The track and field team will be managed and coached by Nakeisha Maynard while the swim team will be under the supervision of coach Abdul Sharif. Chef de mission Glyne Clarke will also travel with the team along with team doctor Dr Renee Best and Barbados youth ambassador Ryan Brathwaite.