Government’s purse can only stretch so far financially and therefore the Minister of Creative Economy, Culture and Sports John King has urged the general public, corporate Barbados and all athletes who have benefitted from scholarships to give back to sports.
Speaking from his Sky Mall office yesterday, King in the presence of Barbados Wrestling Association president Rollins Alleyne made the comments in support of two Barbadian beach wrestlers François Jones and Crystal Holder who are seeking financial assistance to compete outside of Barbados.
Jones is hoping to compete at the Pan American Games in Buenos Aries, Argentina, this month while Holder has hopes of departing next month for the Brazil Beach Wrestling Championship which is a world ranking series for the World Games in San Diego, California in October.
Even though Alleyne is hoping the Barbados Olympic Association steps in to fund the wrestlers, King said it could not be left up to government alone and appealed to others to start contributing to the development of our young prospective athletes.
“Unfortunately, Barbados finds itself in a situation where things are tight for everybody. For Government, for the sporting organizations, for the general man on the street, that is the reality that we face. But they are somethings that you have to think about in the national interest and for me supporting these young people in getting them out there where people know that we exist, is important. So, yes, the ministry will do everything it can to support as many of our athletes as humanly possible.”
“But I am also going to put out a call to the general public. There are so many ways that you can get involved supporting these young people, and I want to take this opportunity to ask you to do whatever it is you can. Even if it means that we have to set up accounts at banks, credit unions, whatever it is, also if it is in your churches. If you could find a way to put something to support our athletes, trust me when you do that it helps our athletes grow.
“So, I want to encourage those persons who have benefitted from sports, those persons who have travelled and had scholarships and now are back home and probably not an athlete today. But you too can find a way to give back, so that the next generation of sportspersons know that this becomes part of the Barbadian culture. They know that if you get involve in sports, and you show that you want to succeed that there will be help there for you,” King said.
The 28-year-old Jones who won gold last year for Barbados at a beach wrestling competition in Trinidad and Tobago said this would be his first time doing freestyle beach wrestling and fancied his chances at the Pan American Games in Argentina next month.
“It is my first time doing freestyle wrestling, but as I said before I would try my best, and I want to thank you for the opportunity to go overseas and represent my country. I want to thank Rollins who was my instructor for many years who has given me the opportunity as well and all those who support me as well as my fellow athletes,” Jones said.
Meanwhile, the 25-year-old Holder who has been under the tutelage of Barbados’ top female wrestling instructor Yaima Payne said despite only being part of the sport for three months, it had been an exciting journey so far. She also said preparation for the upcoming championship scheduled for May in Brazil had been going well.
“It has been an exciting journey for me so far. I don’t think that I would have been here today. There aren’t many females in the sport, and my aim is to not only compete in the upcoming games in Brazil, but to hopefully encourage females in my age group and younger to come out and take part in the sport. It is quite a challenge, and it is a lot of fun, it pushes you mentally and physically, it is very tactical. You have to be very smart, you have to be thinking on your feet, you have to be paying attention, and it has been exciting for me from the past three weeks, and I can’t wait to see what happens next,” Holder said.