Somewhere out there in one of the island’s communities is a little girl who could be a champion on the global amateur wrestling stage. National coach Ronald Philip told Barbados TODAY he sees a lot of potential in Barbadian female wrestlers.
Philip, who has been coaching since 1990 and is the founder of Philip’s Taekwondo Academy School, is responsible for grooming Barbados’ number one ranked Under-14 female beach wrestler Makayla Browne.
One of the most knowledgeable combat instructors on the island in areas such as kickboxing, Kung Fu and taekwondo, Philip told Barbados TODAY in a telephone interview that he prefers to work closely with juniors.
“I focus more on juniors because I spend more time with them in terms of developing and building to an international standard. I was involved in taekwondo, I went to junior Olympics, senior world and I have exposure at that level.
“It is just now I opted to do a different sport which for some reason with Barbadian athletes it is more natural. So the workload is a lot less but it is the same process you have to plan your training schedule.
“There is a lot of opportunity for females, so that is the course I am taking in terms of the juniors. From the juniors down I tend to prefer to work with them because they are at school and they have a lot more time on their hands, compared to an adult who has all kinds of responsibilities, and sports at that level, unfortunately, is not one of them. Unless you are raised in that environment that you can balance your time management properly, “ Philip said.
Explaining his journey and what attracted him to the sport of wrestling, Phillip said: “I moved to Olympic wrestling as a result of a competition they had with the Barbados Olympic Association. Our athletes did very well and that promoted me, and I said, ‘you know what, I have some talent in the mix’ and from there we started a club called Bajan Green Monkey Wrestling Team.
“From there the athletes have just excelled. Makayla (Browne) to be more specific went to the Pan American Under-15 Championship and we had a full team but because of financial constraints, it boiled down to just her going. But we will continue to build more athletes for this international level.”
According to Philip, he is working closely with Browne in preparation for her next event which is the Pan American Championship in Nicaragua. Even though it is not off the United World Wrestling schedule, whether the event takes place will depend on how the COVID-19 situation goes away.
Philip further sang the praises of Browne. “So far she has been very consistent even after the game in Panama last November. Sometimes I say a win or lost could definitely make you or break you, so this one definitely made her. She did not do what she was expecting because this is at an international standard and her first time being a female in a male sport.”
There are a lot of young people gravitating towards the sport and Philip explained that what attracted them to it was the fun.
He also revealed that the Barbados Wrestling Association has been working with members of the Barbados Youth Advance Corps where they see a lot of potential. Philip said the response has been great and saw great potential in two members Keon Sobers and Shavere Tempro. Those two were being prepared for the junior world championships scheduled for August in Ukraine but that is unlikely to take place because of the Coronavirus.
“Like any other sport, if you take the fun out of the sport, you take the athlete out of the sport, especially the young kids. So I find my programme caters a lot to fun activities to get them. I don’t know if it works for other coaches, but I find being able to attract a lot of young people through fun activities helps,” he said.