Barbados will have its first-ever national multi-sport games to commemorate its 50th year of Independence.
Speaking with local media during this morning’s launch held at the Barbados Olympic Association (BOA) in Wildey, St Michael, chairman of the 50th Anniversary Independence Barbados Olympic Association Games committee, Trevor Browne, said the idea was conceptualized through the BOA and its affiliated national sporting federations, who were all well represented during today’s media conference.
There are 22 federations scheduled to participate in the games, beginning November 16th with an opening ceremony at the BOA and climaxing with a closing ceremony on December 11 at Pirates Cove.
Browne explained that the objective was to give the island’s top sporting talents an opportunity to compete beside regional and international competitors in front of local audiences during the national Independence championship.
“This will be the first-ever national multi-sport games for Barbados and all indications coming from those sports authorities who have been involved in the formation so far are that this should become an annual, major event in our sporting calendar. It is so important. We believe this will go a long way to filling the gap for our athletes between the period of them doing well at inter-school sports and then that long gap before they need to qualify for the Central American and Caribbean Championship and other regional and international games.
“There are many different aspects of national life that have been included in the celebration. It is the position of the board of the Barbados Olympic Association that has a national, social and developmental construct, sport has played too important a role in this country and society over the years to miss the opportunity to be highlighted as a major part of these anniversary celebrations. So after consultation with members of our national sporting federations it has been decided that a fitting commemoration of fifty years of independence would be the establishments of such a high quality national multi-sport games,” Browne told the media.
He further explained that the idea was to have Barbados’ athletes feel prestigious and to accord them the respect they richly deserve.
“The whole idea is to confer on these people the kind of respect that we confer on Olympians, Commonwealth Games medallists, CAC Games medallists. We are going to hold these people in high esteem and we are going to actually respect what they have contributed and create the atmosphere where people are going to want to be just like them,” the chairman said.
The event is slated to attract a number of sporting personalities from around the world with associations responsible for boxing, judo and rugby sevens hosting three international and regional championships. There will also be seven national championships involving sports such as netball, fencing, badminton, archery, swimming, table tennis and surfing. Then three national tournaments will be held in golf, cycling and weightlifting.
A number of beach games are also scheduled and they include sailing, open water swimming, kayaking and volleyball. There will also be wrestling, handball, fencing, orienteering and road tennis.
Browne said the committee had adopted a unique and innovative approach where the BOA would take full responsibility of the costs for four major areas of the games – marketing, promotion, quality and coordination of the games. However, the national sports federations will take responsibility for their own sport as it relates to costs and staging of events. Boxing has so far estimated a cost of BDS$220, 000 to host their event.
Browne singled out FLOW which he said was keen to come on board and would be streaming all the various sporting activities live. Pirates Cove is also on board as a major venue sponsor.
Browne said as far as the organizing committee was concerned they had identified six key areas that would determine whether the 50th anniversary games would be successful.
“First target is the successful completion of each event included in the programme. Each event will start on time and that it will present a high quality for spectators and television audiences; at least ten large sponsors be attracted to support these games on a long term basis; identification of one male and female champion in a minimal of twelve sports. And what we want is at the end of the games Barbadians can identify the name of their stars at the national level.
“[We want to] create strong interest, desire and drive among our athletes at all levels to be involved in future sports. And finally, that everyone agrees that this concept needs to be perpetuated and needs to become an annual multi-sport games for Barbados and then become a national games where not just the BOA but the Government and everyone else gets involved,” he said.