After a number of pleas from different quarters across the sporting fraternity, Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth Stephen Lashley has finally spoken on the National Stadium’s future.
Speaking at the 34th Annual National Sports Council’s (NSC) Awards held at the Frank Collymore Hall this weekend, the minister did not delve into many specific details during his speech on the state-owned Stadium, but said enough to give some hope that Government through the NSC intended to do something in the upcoming months.
“We are still actively trying to secure funds for its [stadium] redevelopment. We understand the importance of this facility to sports development in Barbados and it has not been forgotten. More will be forthcoming on this in the months ahead,” Lashley said.
Government’s purse might be facing severe constraints, but Lashley said the Ministry of Sports was partnering with other entities that remained nameless to upgrade a number of Government-owned facilities in the island. He also mentioned that the Sir Garfield Sobers Sports Complex, currently being refurbished by the Chinese government at a cost of Barbados $19 million, was on course to be completed mid-year.
“Through the National Sports Council, Government is partnering with the Barbados Olympic Association by contributing $200,000 to the laying of the new AstroTurf at the Wildey Hockey facility.
“To ensure that our sports facilities are properly and consistently maintained, there is the establishment of a partnership with community groups and of course the private sector to refurbish pavilions and upgrade playing fields and hard courts across Barbados. This is vital because the Government alone cannot do it all. The National Sports Council has also reviewed its facilities, maintenance and management policies and has established guidelines and a benchmark for the maintenance of its facilities,” he said.
Meanwhile, many in the sports community were stunned with the announcement of Barbadian and West Indies cricketer Hayley Matthews as the 2016 National Sports Council’s Personality of the Year, beating out a number of top contenders including Barbados’s most successful lawn tennis professional player, Darian King.
Matthews, a batting all-rounder, also captured the Junior Outstanding Female Sports Award. Her most notable achievement for last year was the instrumental role she played in leading West Indies Women to their maiden International Cricket Council Twenty20 trophy. Mario Burke was named the Junior Outstanding Male. Squash sensation Meagan Best received the Minister’s Award while being recognized as one of three Emerging Athletes of the Year along with cyclist Amber Joseph and cricketer Shamar Springer.
Featured speaker and 2000 Sydney Olympics bronze medallist, Obadele Thompson, grabbed the attention of those in the audience with a thought-provoking address. Among those assembled were specially invited guests Sir Austin Sealy and Sir Everton Weekes of the famous 3Ws. The latter received the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Thompson said sports was a politically, socially and economically sizeable and complex business that had to be taken seriously if Barbados were to have any hope of becoming a global player across the board.
The 40-year-old made a proposal to Government for the surveillance of national sporting federations to the extent where they gave account to the people of Barbados about funding, among other areas Thompson explained that in cases of limited resources, the Government needed to be more actively involved in the distribution of those resources.
“I view our sports persons as limited resources. As I progressed through my athletic career, it saddened me about how many athletes that I competed with and against as a junior in Barbados who were forced to walk away from the sport prematurely, a sport that they loved, that they sacrifice so much for.
“We must be mindful that the youth are our future and when an athlete effectively is forced to retire prematurely, or when they leave the sport with a sour taste in their mouth that ultimately becomes baggage for the rest of their life. And sadly I think we have too many athletes in various sports walking around with deep and unresolved negative feelings towards sports administrators and this represents not just a lost of athletic talent but a generational transfer of knowledge.
“And while I do not think it is fair to paint all administrators with the same brush, I truly believe that the higher up one is, the greater responsibility one has especially when it comes to young people.
“I think the Government needs to play an integral role in monitoring national federations, I think there needs to be an existing organization to which national federations report. I think on a whole national federations need to have greater accountability and transparency to Barbadians regarding how they handle our limited resources,” said Thompson.
Among the award winners:
Performance of the Year – Cricketer Carlos Brathwaite
Indigenous Sports Award – Road Tennis awards went to Ezekiel Ward, Julian White and Kim Holder
Coach of the Year – Vasbert Drakes
The Alvin Burgess Award for Sports Administrator – Amanda Reifer
The Media Award – Mark Sealy
Team 2016 – Barbados Karate team
Club Award – University of the West Indies
Federation Award – Barbados Boxing Association
Sports Tourism Award – Island Races
Seniors Award – Nicholas King – Basketball, Michael Maskell – Shooting and Deighton Roach – Road Tennis
Family Award – The Proverbs
NSC Team Award– The National Sports Council’s Female Football Team
Special Awards – Roxanne Forte, Christopher McCollin, Charlene Leacock, Michael Lopez, Alston Williams and Vernon Williams
The Wesley Worrell Award – Glyne Greaves and Marlon Knight
Youth Awards – McCallum Clarke and Zane Maloney
Schools’ Award – Bayley’s Primary and Christ Church Foundation
Groundsman of the Year – Errol Holder
Community Awards – Nadata Kissoon- Ifill and Evans Maughan