As Barbados prepares to host the Pan American Beach Wrestling Championships (PABW) at Browne’s Beach five months from now, Rollins Alleyne, President of the Barbados Wrestling Association [BWF] is calling for financial support.
During this morning’s press conference at Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc (BTMI) located in Republic Bank, Warrens, Alleyne encouraged corporate Barbados and other financial entities to come on board for the three-day event scheduled to be held from May 29 to 31.
According to Alleyne and BTMI consultant Dr Anthony Yarde, a budget of $300, 000 is required to host the first major wrestling event in the Caribbean.
And even though all participating federations are expected to cover accommodation, food and transportation for their athletes to offset some of the costs, Yarde said they are still in need of $250, 000 to ensure the championship runs smoothly.
With We Gatherin 2020 just around the corner, Alleyne said the wrestling event should be seen as a great opportunity to bring Barbadians home. Therefore, he hopes the Barbados Olympic Association and National Sports Council will sign a cheque to assist with the budget considering the event is only five months away.
Countries such as Brazil, Panama, Suriname, Jamaica, Bahamas, Guyana and Mexico are expected to grace the shores of Barbados next year with a total of 150 athletes scheduled to participate.
Sanctioned by the United World Wrestling, Alleyne explained that the sport of beach wrestling is fast paced like the T20 version of cricket with fights lasting as long as one minute, unlike the indoor version on the mat which is more complicated and requires a more strategic approach.
Before the Pan American competition commences, it is expected that a team from Barbados will travel and compete against Brazil, one of the leading countries in world beach wrestling.
While the BWF will not profit from hosting the PABW because it is outdoor on the beach. Yarde explained there is a bigger picture and that is to put Barbados on the map and give our athletes exposure.
He also added that there are potential sponsors such as NIKE, which are interested in partnering with the BWF for the future, but it would only become a reality once all technicalities are cleared up.
“This sport, in particular, is really a new one in the country. Not new in the sense that it just came, but to do what we are doing, the funding that we are talking about is one that we as the committee looked at but there is not much we can do. What we will say is that we believe it will not only put Barbados out there looking good, but it will also bring money into the country,” Yarde said.
He said the BWF’s aim was to become the hub for beach wresting and they intended to host the first-ever training camp for athletes and coaches at the Barbados Community College and Brandon’s Beach, before the start of PABW.
Once that comes off the BWF is expected to earn some revenue to aid the federation financially.
Experienced campaigner François Jones who has been competing for the past four years, was joined this morning by newcomers Thadius Yearwood and Reuben Wilshire. The three men said preparations has been going well and they are looking forward to the competition.
Jones ranks number one locally in the 80kg division and has competed this year in countries such as Argentina. He said participating overseas had given him the type of exposure needed to gauge his ability versus some of the world’s best.
“The training has been intense, fun and I noticed my skills have improved tremendously. Some people have also mentioned it to me as well and I am hoping to medal next year for sure.
“It was a big eye-opener to the level of beach wrestling in Argentina, so I definitely have to work harder for sure, but it was definitely a big eye-opener for me. I actually love the thrill of it,” Jones said.
They are three categories for the PABW; cadets, juniors and seniors.
Yearwood and Wilshire are 70kg and 90kg respectively, with the latter being the top ranked fighter in Barbados in that division, while Yearwood is ranked second.