The redevelopment of the National Stadium has not been forgotten.
Chairman of the National Sports Council, Michael Power, made this assertion Sunday during the opening ceremony for the start of the 2017 Barbados Football Association (BFA) season where a total of 65 teams from all divisions were on parade at the Usain Bolt Sports Complex.
With BFA president Randolph Harris and Digicel’s director of marketing Carolyn Shepherd among the audience, Power said that Government was seeking to raise BDS$50 million dollars to go towards the island’s sole national sporting stadium.
He explained football was one of those priority sports for the Government of Barbados through the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth, and despite deficiencies with the Stadium he was pleased to see that games would be played there for this 2017 season starting next week Sunday.
“The Ministry is actively trying to source at least BDS$50 million which will go a long way in making the stadium a viable sporting complex with the necessary modern amenities. We appeal to corporate Barbados and any funding agency at the local, regional and international levels for any assistance that can be given to expedite the process of redevelopment.
“The redevelopment of the National Stadium will not only enhance the game of football at the local level, but would place Barbados in a position to bid for regional tournaments and offer training facilities for overseas teams. Of course other sports such as cycling and athletics, to name just two, would benefit in the process. You can indicate your interest by contacting the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth and we will only be too happy to dialogue with you on this matter,” Power said.
In the not too distant past, the BFA ceremony was held at the National Stadium before its deterioration. There has been much speculation over the past couple weeks about the state-owned stadium that has been home to track and field among a number of other sporting federations.
Discussing conditions and what is to be expected once football is played at the Stadium, Power explained: “Attention is being paid to the field to ensure that it is at an acceptable standard for the playing of football. Temporary accommodation for patrons will be put in place, as the stands will not be in use. Let me state that we are doing the best we can in these difficult times when resources are very limited.”
During his remarks Harris said the association intended to introduce products and incentives for the overall development of the game on the island.
The BFA in conjunction with the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football will provide funding to the Barbados Secondary Schools Football League. Scholarships will also be offered to qualified players, both males and females to attend the University of the West Indies, Barbados Community College and Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic.
A number of tournaments will be introduced beginning with a knockout competition as part of the Guardian Group Youth Football Competition to be played in the summer. They are also looking to dialogue with the NSC to re-introduce the under-13 development programme for talented players in the primary schools.
In addition he said: “We have already gained approval from FIFA to continue our “Live you Goal” project and grassroots programmes for schools and communities. We will continue to support with funding, our players and coaches who are invited to trials and attachments overseas.”
During the opening ceremony the Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme (BDFSP) was adjudged the best dressed on parade. Individual awards saw the BDFSP’s Dario Weir receiving the accolade for the best goalkeeper in the premier league, UWI Blackbirds’ Ramar Millar being adjudged best defender, Jairo Lombardo of UWI Blackbirds taking the award for the best midfielder and Mario Harte of Blackbirds was awarded most goals and most valuable player.
Blackbirds were also tops in the team awards with BDFSP taking second position and Weymouth Wales, third.
In the women’s league, Janice Clarke of Pinelands was adjudged the best goalkeeper, National Sports Council’s Shanice Stevenson received the award for best midfielder and most valuable player, and Mavericks’ Felicia Jarvis was rewarded for scoring the most goals.