Government’s vision is to one day make Barbados the hub for all types of sporting activities, says Minister of Creative Economy, Culture and Sports, John King. His comments came during this morning’s press conference to highlight the 20th anniversary of Bridgetown Burning.
Bridgetown Burning is a martial arts series that is scheduled to commence this Saturday, April 6 at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre and culminates the following day with the inaugural Long Beach Burning to be held in Christ Church.
Speaking from his Sky Mall office, King, who was accompanied by parliamentary colleague Wilfred Abrahams in his capacity as representative for Christ Church East where the first ever Long Beach Burning will he staged, lauded the efforts of Barbados Wrestling Association president Rollins Alleyne.
“It is always nice when you have competitors coming from other parts of the Caribbean to enjoy what we have to offer here in Barbados. That is part and parcel where sports in Barbados must now look to. It cannot just be for recreation. We spoke about the kind of incomes that can be generated worldwide using sports, and it is possible that this is the first step for us in really realizing the true potential of sports and our sports people.
“Our main goal is to make Barbados a hub for all types of sporting activities, not just wrestling or martial arts but whatever it is that we can get on our beautiful beaches, on our wonderful landscapes and other places. This ministry will be in support of that, so I really want to thank Mr Rollins and the wrestling association for what they have been doing,” King said.
The minister of sports pleaded with Barbadians to attend the event especially on Long Beach, which he described as one of the most beautiful beaches not just in Barbados but in the world.
“The problem with us most of the time is that we become so accustomed to these things because we see them every day we don’t realize the full potential in what we have as persons living here. But we want to change that mindset. We are the creative economy, culture and sports, and we have been saying to people that we want to begin to think of culture not just as dance and all these other things. But really begin to think of it as a way of life, the way you view yourself, the way you behave and really try to cultivate those things in persons where we would appreciate ourselves, our talents,” King said.
Speaking on the upcoming martial arts events, that has attracted participants from Martinique, Trinidad and Tobago, Bermuda, Puerto Rico and the United States of America, president of the Barbados Wrestling Association Rollins Alleyne said the event was about bringing the Caribbean together.
Among the list of events as part of the Bridgetown Burning competition are taekwondo, Kung Fu, grappling, wrestling, sport karate, freestyle and kickboxing. Meanwhile, for the beach aspect, there will be a section of female models in bikinis.
Before the competition, a cocktail gala will be held at the Argentinian Embassy at Lucerne Building, Hastings, Christ Church, on Friday night, April 5 to target and encourage participants to have a similar event like Bridgetown Burning in their own country.
“It is all about bringing the Caribbean together. In the Caribbean, there is no other place that brings all different types of martial arts together, and Barbados has shown that we have done that. So, now the next step is to take it further. In a conversation last year on Long Beach with the Minister of Sports, we came up with an idea of how to make this beautiful beach into something positive. It has been neglected. Our focus is a lot on beach sports, and Barbados is the ideal place to have those sports.
“We felt that we needed to add another component to Bridgetown Burning to grow it. For twenty years we have been doing the same thing over and over, so this is where the Long Beach Burning came into effect. Through the efforts of the minister [King] and constituency representative [Abrahams], we decided to do an amalgamation. We need to really drive this thing forward, and next year we have a theme called on the Road to Bridgetown Burning 2020.”
“We are seeking to expose combat sports and wrestling as part of the beach culture which is a big thing now. The idea now is to develop sports tourism with the focus of bringing foreign exchange into our country. We have a good product, Barbados has beaches that we can really extract to bring in foreign currency. Last week we had a Super Wrestling week, and there is something about Barbados that everybody likes. The people from Suriname, Argentina, China, Bahamas, Guyana, they seem to fall in love with this place. In fact, some of those guys wanted to extend their stay, so Barbados is in a good position that we need to get our national federation into bringing this product to the forefront,” Alleyne said.