For the first time in its 58 years of existence, the Barbados Olympic Association’s (BOA) board of directors has appointed a woman as its new assistant secretary-general.
Accountant Shelley-Ann Griffith who joined the BOA in September 2019 as a director was appointed to the post left vacant by Cameron Burke who was recently elected as the new BOA’s vice-president. Griffith’s appointment came on October 7. Burke held the post from 2004 to 2020.
During a telephone interview with Barbados TODAY Griffith said she was excited to be in the position and was looking forward to working with the BOA to further develop initiatives for sports in the island.
A woman who has spent her life serving various disciplines in sports, Griffith said she hopes to bring practical solutions that will assist various associations and federations as it relates to finance.
As the first female holding this position, Griffith noted that in her estimation she didn’t see it as a woman being elected to a male-dominated field. Rather her focus was on what difference she could make firstly as an individual for sports in Barbados and the Caribbean by extension.
“It is always good to be a part of the Olympic movement. I don’t look at the whole idea of females per se. I think that we should look at what we can do as people in the Caribbean first. But I don’t look at it as female, I look at it as the Caribbean first because I think there is a lot we have to offer as Caribbean people. So, for me that is the most important thing,” she said.
Griffith will now go down in history beside Sandra Osborne who became the first woman to be elected president of the BOA in 2017 when she succeeded Steve Stoute, one of the longest-serving Olympic administrators.
No stranger to sports particularly in the area of administration, Griffith has served in various disciplines such as taekwondo, weightlifting, cricket, chess and football. She has even volunteered in the past at CARIFTA Games under the Athletic Association of Barbados and has a passion for being of service when it comes to sports generally.
Griffith has a Sports Administration Certificate from the BOA and currently sits on other boards such as the Barbados Football Association’s Finance Committee. In April this year, she was also appointed to the Member Governance Review Commission of the Pan American Weightlifting Federation.
Having managed national teams in disciplines such as football and taekwondo, Griffith said she thinks more can be done for the development of sports.
“I think that there is a lot that can be done for sport in terms of development and initiatives. Not just looking at where we are now but looking at people coming through the pipeline to see that you are developing the sport. If the current set of athletes aren’t there anymore, you need another set coming up.
“So, there is a lot of development potential we have to work on and for me, that is one of the things I would like to work on as well. That is one of the things we are working on and that we want to see for more sports, that there are development programs coming through so that the sports are sustained,” Griffith said.
She added: “We need to have people who have the ability to do whatever the particular role is, so if you have players, athletes, coaches, technical officials, administration, if you have people that want to do it and are able to do it, then that is also part of the big picture. I don’t mind doing administrative work if that is where I best fit in. I am not a coach, technical person, administration is where I know I can contribute.”
BOA president Osborne said in a statement Griffith had made a positive impact on the board since her arrival just over a year ago. “I welcome Shelley to the post of Assistant Secretary-General. Although she is one of the newest members of the board, she has demonstrated a depth of knowledge and creative insight that belies her quiet outward appearance. She is level-headed and hardworking, and I am confident that she will do justice to the role as the first female to take on this position,” Osbourne said.
Now that Griffith has been appointed to the post of assistant secretary-general, that means her previous position of director is vacant. However, the BOA’s board of directors has indicated that national federations will have the opportunity to decide who will fill the post of director at its next general assembly.