Usain Bolt may be a star on the track, but if Minister of Sports Stephen Lashley had his way, a Barbadian’s name would be the one adorning the University of the West Indies’ new sporting complex at the Cave Hill Campus.
And while he promptly acknowledged it was the university’s right to name the facility after whom it chose, and stated that he respected the decision made, Lashley told Barbados TODAY in an interview this afternoon he would have preferred the honour to have fallen on a Barbadian athlete.
“First of all I have to say that the University of the West Indies has a right to name their facilities in accordance with their own policies and preferences, and therefore I certainly respect that.
“Speaking though as Minister of Sports in Barbados, I would have certainly liked to see such a well laid out facility named after one of our own Barbadian outstanding athletes,” Lashley conceded.
“There is no doubt that Barbados has produced some of the most outstanding athletes in the region, and I can understand, certainly, those sentiments which would have preferred that we use the occasion to pay tribute to the kind of contributions that our athletes have actually made.”
The Minister also agreed with statements made by Principal of the Cave Hill Campus, Sir Hilary Beckles, that the educational facility was not solely a Barbadian institution.
However, with the likes of former World champion, Ryan Brathwaite, Olympic bronze medalist, Obadele Thompson, and highly respected sports administrator, Austin Sealy, Lashley said he believed there were more than enough Barbadian candidates from which to choose.
“I would say that the university has the right to do whatever they like, but within the context of where I stand as Minister of Sports, it really would have been my preference to see that we look to a Barbadian to name the facility after,” he added.
Despite their differences in views, Lashley praised the university for its efforts in forging ahead to complete a top-class facility.
He insisted the new sports complex would not only benefit students attending the university, but the island as well.
“I must give the university credit for forging ahead to complete a facility that will certainly add to the offerings of sports venues in Barbados,” Lashley noted.
“I think we really have to give kudos to the university for doing that. It is something which is necessary, and I believe that the university is a key partner in relation to the development of sports in Barbados.
“From everything which I have known, in terms of their focus, we intend to work very closely with them and certainly I believe that in the future, facilities which are developed by the university will also be available as part of our own sports development programme,” the Minister disclosed.