The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth is in the process of drafting a national sports policy Minister of Sports, Stephen Lashley said speaking yesterday at the Barbados Olympic Association (BOA) during the closing ceremony for the 50th Anniversary Independence BOA Games. The policy will be aimed at the development of sports locally over the next ten to 15 years.
Lashley said in the presence of BOA President, Steve Stoute, BOA General Secretary, Erskine Simmons, National Sports Council Deputy Director, Neil Murrell and President of the Amateur International Boxing Association, Wu Ching- Kuo that Barbados has what is takes to propel the growth of sports to new frontiers.
“Quite a lot has gone into it [the sports policy] in terms of consultation we believe that sports has to be seen through a different pair of eyes and that we have to get our country following a path that is cohesive and one that will be sustainable. I believe that we can emerge out of this perhaps as that country, that rapidly developing country that can boast in the not so distant future as being a developed country, being the country that produces the best athletes, that can boast of having the best facilities.
“The development of sports has got to be seen within a national context and not only because we all aspire to ensure that our sports men and women can bring home gold when they engage in these national competitions but sports in my mind must be taken to the point where we see it as being at the very apex of our developmental model because it helps to strengthen us as a nation. It helps to reinforce all of the various social and economic criteria that have placed Barbados on the international map,” Lashley said.
The inaugural national multi-sport Games to commemorate Barbados 50th Anniversary of Independence was aimed at highlighting the best sporting talent with a total of 25 sporting federations and athletes showcasing their talent over the past 27 days.
The minister gave assurance that the Government would always give the kind of support needed for the development of sports in country. He added that international statistics seen globally reinforced the point that sports are now seen as one of those cutting areas of economic activity.
“We have a lot of faith and confidence in our athletes and federations to do what is required to ensure the holistic development of each and every Barbadian, man, woman, boy or girl who has an interest in sports. Sport has now gone beyond just being a pastime or recreational activity, sport is now an activity which can not only develop the individual but it has now become a pivotal component of any economic model globally.
“There is no difference in Barbados that is why it is certainly my view that we as administrators, policy makers and of course you the persons who are the face of sport in your various areas of activity have to buy into a model that seeks to catapult sport as a preferred engine upon which all aspects of our development rest.
“I think that if we do that then of course every component that is required to develop strong and competitive athletes will be put in place whether it is facilities or ensuring that we have the finest coaches and that we have the best programs. Once we buy into that idea Government, the private sector and of course our sporting brothers and sisters, then I believe we would have gone to that point having celebrated fifty years of independence to then say to our young champions both established and emerging that we have come of age as a nation,” Lashley continued as he commended the BOA organizing committee for making the event a “fine success”.
Chairman of the 50th Independence Games, Trevor Browne endorsed Lashley’s comments on a well organized tournament saying they had met all objectives set by the committee giving special thanks to each sporting discipline that participated.
“The event did indeed meet all of the objectives set by the organizing committee and has indeed set the stage, we think, for the possibility of some exciting follow up projects in coming years and maybe in coming months. One of the most satisfying and impressive outcomes of these games has been the impressive level of enthusiasm and competitiveness that has been displayed by the athletes at all levels. It was almost as though our athletes were waiting for an opportunity to show off in front of a local audience and we were happy to be able to provide to some extent that opportunity,” Browne said.