A robbery in a section of the National Insurance Scheme’s (NIS) car park last night has left over a dozen members of the Barbados Ball Hockey League, mostly Canadians, shaken and angry.
Around 11:30 p.m., after a game of hockey at the Culloden Road, St Michael location, the men were liming when six men, armed with knives and cutlasses, pounced on them.
One of the attackers told the men he had a gun and was not afraid to use it if they refused to hand over their valuables.
Gilles Gosselin, one of the directors of the league whose members range in age from late 20s to early 50s, said the thieves were shirtless and their faces were wrapped in bandanas.
“So we proceeded to hand them what we had and they dispersed,” he said.
The thieves escaped – some on foot and the others in one of the victims’ car – with a mobile phone, cash and jewellery.
Immediately after the bandits left, the hockey players called police and officers from the Hastings Police Station responded.
Police confirmed getting the report and said the incident was being investigated.
“We are grateful that nobody was hurt. We are grateful to the police department for responding as quickly as they did and doing whatever they could. But we are at the same time shaken, a little angry and a little disappointed. Something like this is unacceptable. It should be unacceptable to all of the good people of Barbados,” a visibly upset Gosselin told Barbados TODAY.
He said the group which consists of about 35 members, mostly expatriates, has been playing hockey at the spot every Thursday night for more than six years and did not expect anything like last night’s episode.
“We usually play from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. and then afterwards we hang out and socialize and have a beer and the police often come by and make sure we are alright, and we have done this without incident,” he said.
Gosselin, who is also a business owner, told Barbados TODAY he was concerned that such incidents could impact negatively on the island’s reputation as a safe destination.
“There is a bigger picture and message here. We have discussed it this morning and we are angry because there are about 30 expats in this league that are here on work permits and we contribute to the economy of Barbados through the international business sector, and we rely on Barbados’ reputation of being a safe place to live. I think incidents like this are unusual but incidents of theft and armed robbery seem to be increasing and it affects Barbados’ reputation and its ability to attract business,” he said.
“This is something that you really don’t want to tell people happened, but it obviously can happen and it affects your willingness to invite people to come in. I doubt we will continue to play here because I doubt our families want us putting ourselves in situations that are risky,” he added.
President of the league Maurice Fortier also shared similar sentiments.
“A lot of us who play here . . . are businesspeople and if we have visitors here we would bring them out. That is definitely going to have an impact because no visitor will want to come out and play with us. We have had hockey teams come down and play with us before from other countries, including Bermuda and Canada. The question is, are they going to want to come down and play now?” said Fortier.