If all goes according to plan the inaugural 50th Anniversary Independence Barbados Olympic Association (BOA) Games could become an annual event.
Speaking during Wednesday’s opening ceremony held at the BOA in Wildey, St Michael under the theme: Celebrating Bajan Sports and Sports Persons, interim chief executive officer of the National Sports Council and the Gymnasium Limited, Jerry Blenman, said that if the games were impactful they could become long term.
Blenman who spoke on behalf of Stephen Lashley, Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth, who is currently out of the island, commended the BOA for what he described as a special initiative that afforded sports personalities, enthusiasts and Barbadians in general, an opportunity to participate in the golden anniversary celebration and to recognize their rich sporting heritage.
“Notwithstanding that these games are intended to be part of the 50th anniversary celebrations, it is hoped that the impact will be such that it will merit the hosting of Barbados Independence Games on an annual basis. Several of our athletes have made us extremely proud, however we recognize that the momentum attributed to past successes is not as impactful as we would wish it to be today and so we still have a way to go. It is therefore up to us to continue writing our names on history’s page,” Blenman said.
The Games started Thursday and conclude Sunday, December 11 with 25 sporting federations hosting activities. A number of overseas competitors are expected to participate in various sports including boxing, judo and rugby.
In addition Blenman explained that sports could no longer be seen as a pastime but instead a new economic reality in Barbados.
“We must transition if we are to be a nation serious about sports to having this become a real part of our economic sector and indeed an area by which many of our young and talented sports persons can find meaningful career paths. As we consider the future of our nation the time has come to ensure that our love for sports is expanded beyond mere recreation and leisure. We must therefore urge all Barbadians to recognize and capitalize on the immense potential sports has with respect to health, economics, social and economical benefits,” he said.
Chairman of the Games Organizing Committee Lieutenant Trevor Browne told specially invited guests that included athletes and administrators that the realization was that athletes, sporting heroes, sports administrators and coaches were much too important and played too vital a role in national society not to be featured greatly in any 50th anniversary celebrations in Barbados.
He said that the games were almost non-existent due to a number of reasons that included lack of sports facilities and very tight financial constraints but he thanked the federations for enthusiastically coming on-board to make the games a reality.
According to Browne, the objectives for the Independence games was to produce a high quality series of events that brought out the very best in Barbadian athletes, coaches and sports administrators and specifically gave them a chance to show off their skills to the public. He said they were also to create exciting avenues through which corporate Barbados and the Barbados Olympic Association could co-operate to the mutual benefit of national sports and businesses and to generate a renewed level of excitement of competitiveness and eagerness among athletes, technical officials and sports fans.
Browne, also a sitting member of the BOA executive board of directors, explained that the games would be executed along the lines of the other BOA-sponsored games such as the Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games and Central American and Caribbean Games.
“What this means is that the Olympic principles of excellence, respect and fair play will be the over-riding considerations driving the games’ organization. While the BOA supports and encourages the use of monetary rewards for winning athletes where possible, we strongly believe where possible that this particular category of games must be reserved to honour the spirit and value of sports where the ultimate goal is not so much about winning but more about being part of the great exhibition of sportsmanship and exhibition where everyone should be seen as winners. There will therefore be no direct presentation of monetary prizes provided by the BOA to winners of these games. However the individual national federations are free to use their own discretion and resources as they see fit.
“What we will be seeking to do actively and aggressively in the BOA is to identify our various sports champions, both male and female in each of the sports taking part. This is something we actively want to do to identify and to be able to recognize and promote those who really stand out with the potential to do well in sports,” Browne said.
Meanwhile assistant secretary general of the BOA, Cameron Burke, said they were delighted with the enthusiastic response from the various sporting federations and invited all Barbados to come out and be part of a unique sports celebration.