Organizers of the Bridgetown Burning Festival are calling on government and corporate Barbados to pump financial support into the event which they say has become a household name both regionally and internationally.
During this morning’s launch for the 20th staging of the Bridgetown Burning held at Blue Horizon Beach Hotel, president of the Barbados Wrestling Association Rollins Alleyne and head of Trinidad and Tobago Wrestling Federation, Jason Fraser, said they would like to see local government inject nothing less than US$25, 000 towards the event.
“If we are talking tourism and the country depending on tourism, we have to expose the country and the way to do that is through marketing,” Fraser said about the two-day event scheduled for April 6th at Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre followed the next day with the beach aspect slated for Accra.
Among the participating countries, this year will be Trinidad and Tobago, St. Lucia, Martinique, United States of America, England and Brazil.
Bridgetown Burning is one of the most significant martial arts events in the Caribbean and Fraser who is also president of the Caribbean Sambo Association and a development officer for the Federation of International Sambo Association explained that a lot more support was needed to attract other countries to compete.
“We need hotel accommodation, we need water, we need food, we need all different things. We need a purse, advertising, printing, marketing, we need a radio to come on board, television to come on board and help build the product. After twenty years I believe that April 6th should be a great day in Barbados with this championship. So, if we can have those people coming forward, even the media giving as much exposure as we could get would be great,” Fraser said.
He expressed that it was commendable of Alleyne and his team to stage this event for the last 19-years with very little support at a budget cost of BDS$50, 000 to BDS$60, 000 and successfully so. Fraser has called on Minister of Sports John King to come on board and help as the organizing committee for Bridgetown Burning targets 20 countries to compete this year.
According to Fraser, Olympic wrestling in Barbados and beach wrestling have been doing exceptionally well and have taken the lead in the region. Therefore, in pleading for the minister’s support, he also asked for there to be equality for sports in Barbados as it relates to funding.
“I want to say to Mr King that the time has come for you to leave a footprint for combat sports because Barbados has a lot of martial artists, a lot of young people and they actually need the time to be treated equally with the distribution of funding,” Fraser said.
Noting that the time has come for Bridgetown Burning to be on the annual sporting calendar, he said: “I believe that Bridgetown Burning should now be on the calendar of events and it should be incorporated with some culture of Barbados because of the kind of exposure, experience and platform that Bridgetown Burning brings not just to the people of Barbados but also to the Caribbean.”
Meanwhile, Ronald Phillips, president of Interschool Martial Arts Association and past president of the Taekwondo Association of Barbados spoke briefly and said he came on board to offer support. He explained that his interest in the Bridgetown Burning event was to help promote the sport and young people through grassroots programmes.
Taekwondo, combat sambo and muay thai are among the different styles that will feature competitors from around the world. However, the main highlight for the event promises to be between homegrown martial artist Lamar Tull against Puerto Rican-born Savier Santana currently based in the United States.