The Barbados Squash Association [BSA] needs a home, and though Minister of Sports John King says Government cannot presently facilitate that, he has invited the BSA to discuss with his ministry ways to take the sport forward.
Following the arrival of Barbados’ successful junior squash team yesterday from Trinidad and Tobago where they captured their third consecutive overall Caribbean Area Squash Association Championships, King said there was only so much government can do.
The minister explained that even though a home was not realistic at this present moment, it was essential to have conversations relating to the development of the sport to produce more players and raise the standard of the game locally.
“When the government is able, then we could talk about building and those sort of things. But right now, we have to talk about support in other areas which would help develop the sport. Now we know facilities and these things are important, but we also have to be realistic at this point in time. There is only so much that the government in itself can do. Now if between the government and the association itself, we can reach out to corporate Barbados and the wider community to see how we can come together to raise funds, do what we need to do to make sure there is a proper home for squash that we can continue to build out more and more squash players at this level and engage the wider community also.
“We have to do an assessment of what are the needs, what are the immediate, the short term, medium and long-term needs and then together with whichever associations we are discussing with, we will work out that and give you [media] the information at the appropriate time,” King said.
Based on what minister King said, victorious junior national coach Shawn Simpson emphasised on the need for squash to acquire a home.
Simpson, the reigning 11-time senior national champion explained that Barbados has an excellent crop of junior players but struggles to go further with the lack of facilities. The 35-year-old said it had been that way since he was a little boy playing the sport over two decades ago.
“…I have been playing this sport for twenty-six years, I came through this very same junior championships and have gone on to seniors, and we are repeating the same thing over and over again. We have excellent juniors that would turn out, but then they can’t go any further because of the lack of facilities.
“When you look at it, there are only three courts we play on a regular basis, and we have over a hundred and fifty members. So, you could understand the scheduling headaches a coach like myself would have trying to get these kids on the court as regular as possible. But if the association had their own home that you don’t have to worry about those scheduling headaches,” Simpson said.
Apart from a home being on BSA’s wish list, they also intend to conduct programmes within the schools both at the primary and secondary level under the leadership of president Kim Jebodhsingh.
According to Simpson, they want to begin that programme as early as September to discover talented squash players within the schools.
“I think the idea behind that is obviously trying to capture some of the younger ones in school around eleven, twelve, thirteen and see if we could mould them in the next two, three years to get them up to the national level. But what I would like to see what happen after this, going into the primary schools is where those are the ones you really want to capture.
“One of the things I would like to see going forward is after going into the secondary schools and definitely going into the primary schools and unearthing, as you said, some raw talent that we would be able to pick up on. Because the majority of the kids that come into the programme are by extension of friends. So I would tell a friend to bring your child to squash, but if you get someone outside of that scope you may be able to unearth the next world champion if we could get to that stage,” Simpson said.