Barbados has sporting potential, but to reach the next level, children in the country need the necessary tools to take them there, says water polo head coach Ryan Forde.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY after Barbados placed second overall on home soil at the 2019 Central American and Caribbean Swimming Federation Championship (CCCAN) held at the Barbados Aquatic Centre in Wildey, St. Michael, Forde said countries like Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica do not complain but instead do what is necessary to take sports forward in their country.
“When we [Barbados] beat Trinidad and Tobago in 2005 for the bronze water polo, Trinidad shut the programme down and in 2006 started first playing in the small pool. The secondary schools began playing in the shallow end of the pool. Now they have six to ten schools playing in Trinidad and the same thing in Jamaica with multiple clubs. But here in Barbados, we have the mindset at the pool as well as some of the parents and coaches that if you are not good at swimming, you start water polo or synchro. Or you go to open water if you didn’t make the qualifying pool time. That is not the way you should deal with sports, and that is not the way to give kids the opportunity.
“Jamaica doesn’t complain when they are running, Jamaica doesn’t have endless stadiums, but they did what they had to do to get where they are. The football team did the same thing, and they even had a bobsled team twice in the Olympics. So, in Barbados we need to have that mindset in sports, stop thinking that everybody is going to be a Nicky Neckles, everybody is going to be an Obadele Thompson, everybody is going to be a Darian King. We need to give the kids opportunities, and we have the current infrastructure, we have the pool time, we have the track time, football field times, give them a chance and stop thinking that they are going to be a superstar at age twelve. We need to give them the opportunities and stop this selfish mindset that I, or me, or my club and start working together,” Forde said.
A former national swimmer, Forde explained that the time has come for Barbados to look at ways to develop sports generally without it being financially burdensome to the associations or country. He said programmes needed to be implemented in the schools and clubs so that children could discover their true potential and excel further.
“… From a local standpoint, if we want to be serious about sports, we need to give the tools to the kids. We need to do what we can do that is not financially impacting, so financially impacting is building more pools, sending kids to tournament, those things you need to fundraise and get sponsors and stuff. But things that are not financially taxing are getting it into schools, getting it into other clubs, getting it into the beach communities.
“Not everybody is going to be a track star, but you have football, cricket, tennis, you have all those things. But here in Barbados, it is oh there is a pool let them swim, and that is it. But we still have drowning, we still got fewer kids taking part in the aquatics. So, what has gone wrong? We need to implement that it is an aquatic programme, you teach water safety, swimming, synchro, water polo. You need to teach them cross-based swims, triathlons, you need to give kids the opportunity because with on-land everybody is not a runner but give them cricket, tennis etc. Why is it when we go to the waterside we only stick to one discipline? We need to give them those opportunities then we can excel further,” Forde said.
A notable swimmer and football enthusiast, Forde said he was happy with Barbados’ performance at the just concluded CARIFTA Games and CCCAN. However, he stressed the time had come for further growth and development.
“I am happy and proud with the kids, and how they have played [at CCCAN], they improved as time went on, but we now need to grow from that and push on a hundred and fifty percent in practice and every training trip that we go on. So that when we get to the meaningful tournaments, even though we play maybe sixteen games a year versus teams playing eighty to two hundred games, we need to use that fact and still push on and want it more.
“I would like to work with the association [swimming], the sports council, the swim coaches and let us start to look and say ‘we want to hear Barbados win CCCAN overall’. So we want them to be powerful in swimming, we want them to be powerful in the water polo, synchro, open water. Instead of thinking we got to be powerful in this one sport or powerful in the other, we need to work together to make it possible,” Forde said.