Barbados Olympic Association (BOA) has introduced a revised funding model that will see Barbadian athletes listed under five tiers and benefitting from these new criteria.
President of the BOA, Sandra Osborne, has assured that the National Olympic Committee funded by four main sources – Olympic Solidarity, Pan Am Sports, Barbados Lottery and now the Gaming Operation set up by Government to collect taxes from the slot and the Vertical Turning Lathes machines – remains committed to providing support and funding for athletes during this time.
Speaking during a virtual media conference today, Osborne, accompanied by secretary-general Erskine Simmons and assistant secretary-general Cameron Burke, spoke about BOA’s response to the Coronavirus (COVID 19) pandemic and revealed they had surplus to fall back on as a last resort but stressed only if necessary.
“We have considerably refined and fine-tuned our criteria for athlete funding and have started to fund athletes under this new funding model. Our approach to funding is now better coordinated and there is more clarity and more objectivity around what an athlete needs to achieve in order to be placed in a particular funding category,” Osborne said.
The BOA president explained that they have received assurances of continued support from the international bodies such as Olympic Solidarity and Pan Am Sport during these unprecedented times. She however added that the BOA recognised that on the local front like all businesses, they were faced with the uncertainty of how long the current restrictions (COVID-19) would last and how it would impact on their operations.
Therefore, Osborne said that with Barbadian athletes being at the centre of what the BOA does, additional revenue received as a result of taxes earned from the gaming operations late-year would also be put towards athletes’ funding and support during this time.
There are five categories under which the athletes are expected to receive funding. They are two elite (hurdler Shane Brathwaite and Chelsea Tuach) and 18 high performance. There are no set numbers for the other three such as developing athletes, emerging athletes or team sports because those numbers are subject to change.
Additionally, six athletes are expected to receive funding through the Olympic scholarship for Tokyo 2020 – Alex Sobers (swimming), Michael Mascoll (shooting), Darian King (tennis), Shane Brathwaite (track and field), Tia-Adana Belle (track and field) and Sade Williams (track and field).
BOA Assistant Secretary-General, Cameron Burke will chair a commission recently put in place to make recommendations to the board on providing funding support to athletes directly or through their respective national federations.
“You may recall that the BOA started funding athletes in five tiers from 2017. At that time, our roster totalled some 71 athletes. In 2019, the Board mandated a review as it was felt that the programme was somewhat diluted and not of a significant benefit to meet the stated goal of the BOA, which is to provide to the best of our ability first-world level funding support to give athletes a better competitive advantage.
“The BOA has therefore raised the level of funding support in discrete categories because it is recognised that this type of support has proven to translate into top performances, and we have already started to reap some of these benefits. If you recall at the recent Pan Am Games we won our first gold medal and further from that games team, more of the athletes finished in the top eight of their discipline.
“Funding also means that the athletes are better prepared for competition. However, I will be quick to tell you that we are very mindful that what we are providing is not enough for the athletes. We need more support so that we can do more. But what I can say, the response from the athletes towards this funding has been very favourable and we intend to make more money available as they come in,” Burke said.
Sitting on the commission with Burke is secretary-general Erskine Simmons, treasurer Orson Simpson, director Shelly Griffith, general manager Glyne Clarke, chairman of the BOA’s newly formed Education Commission Dave Farmer and BOA’s senior operations officer, Ryan Brathwaite.
During his remarks, Burke also spoke about the implementation of an insurance policy for national athletes. He said: “There is some concern of ‘I already have an insurance policy, so why do I need this one’. But we must realise that this policy is sports specific, it only treats to sports injuries that athletes will get when they are training or during competition. So it is completely different from the regular health insurance. But benefits may arrive from having both depending on the injury.”