Skaters in Barbados are anxious to once again show off their skills but will have to wait a while longer to use the one-year-old Kaitif Skate Park located at the Sir Garfield Sobers Sports Complex in Wildey, St. Michael.
President of the Skateboard Association of Barbados (SAB), Paul Wilson, said they are awaiting permission from the National Sports Council (NSC) to use the facility which is on lockdown because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Wilson told Barbados TODAY via a telephone interview that before COVID-19 SAB had plans to host what is called the One Movement Skateboarding Summer Event in August which he said has been a major success over the past decade.
Skateboarding is still relatively new to Barbados, and Wilson explained that this year they were hoping to form a national team. In order for that to happen SAB needs to join the International Skateboarding Federation as a member which they were also hoping to do this year providing it was sanctioned by the NSC.
“We never really had any meetings with them but those are things that we would have to do first before we really pursue having a team to go to the Olympics one day. But with that being said, it would make us understand that we have to put in place a series of events to get those kids to qualify for a national team.
“With the skate park in place now, we actually have a facility to create those athletes and to create a system. This is all still kind of new for us especially in terms of how qualifications for the Olympics go. It is not just an ordinary contest, it is huge to represent your country and you want to go into that correctly.
“We still have a lot to learn but with that facility put in place within a short space of time, I would definitely tell you within five years we got competitors that would be on par to go compete at any event on any level,” Wilson said.
SAB has approximately 150 members that are part of the association and ever since the skate park came into existence, Wilson noted that he has seen a growing interest towards the sport.
“There is a saying: ‘Build it and they will come.’ There was always a skateboarding crew, very small, nothing on the scale of other sports like football, basketball or cricket. But now there is a facility, kids have a place to train, they can sit and watch their Youtube content and follow the famous skateboarders and practise. I am at the park at least four times a week and I have seen the growth of the kids. I have seen how good they have gotten.
“Yes, skateboarding has its ups and downs. Even though it was open for a year, it was open and closed, opened and closed due to unforeseen stuff. But once it is open, there are always kids, somebody new showing up. Whether a tourist or somebody that didn’t know the park was opened,” Wilson explained.
Even though skateboarding is an individual sport and the Government has eased on its restrictions to allow for the non-contact sports to resume, Wilson noted that the Kaitif Skate park built by the Maria Holder Memorial Trust and officially opened last year May was handed over to the NSC who will determine when members of SAB are allowed to once again use the facility.
“At this point in time what I would say is that the facility is under the National Sports Council. So, we would really have to wait on what the sports council decides. And I guess in turn they would have to wait and see how much the country opens up.
“Once we are allowed to use the facility when the country opens back up then we would obviously put guidelines in place for COVID. Maybe limiting the numbers, schedule various time persons can come in,” Wilson said.
He added: “We just want to ensure we follow the proper guidelines put in place. I don’t want to say too much on that as yet because we don’t want to get people all hyped up. At this point, it is not up to us to make that decision.”
Last year November Barbados sent a small contingent to the Gathering of Good Vibes Skateboarding event in Trinidad and Tobago where they won three medals.
SAB has plans to take the well-known One Movement Skateboarding event created in Barbados through the Caribbean. According to Wilson, a 20-year skateboarding veteran, that will be done through proper marketing.
“What we are really trying to do as an association is to create a regional skateboarding entity. Maybe have a regional event like One Movement where we can come together as a region and have our own competition against each other.
“Countries like the United States of America, Canada, Europe, have all of these big sponsors that can assist them. We never had that as a region or an island. Skateboarding for most people in Barbados is kind of new. So, they never see the potential of sponsorship and how advertisement could help. With the new skate park, people are paying more attention now. There are advertisements on television about skateboarding and there are more opportunities now,” Wilson said.