Brendon Batson, the first black man to play for Arsenal has encouraged the young people of the Caribbean to recognise what a positive impact sport can have on their lives.
The 67-year-old Batson who is Grenadian-born recently visited Barbados to work with the national teams particularly the women.
The former defender was also part of the Memorandum of Understanding signing last Tuesday between the Emmerson Boyce Foundation of which he is a coach and mentor, the Barbados Football Association and Team You.
“I think it is important to recognise what sports can do for young people. Like Emmerson, I played elite many years, unlike Emmerson I never lifted the FA cup which is one of my regrets. So, I think it is really important and arguably my most enjoyable football experience was as a schoolboy playing at grassroots even before I progressed to the elite end.
“The things that I carried with me today I learned in the formative years playing football. So, I think it is really important for young people to recognise what sports and in this particular case I am talking about football can do for them throughout their lifelong journey. In terms of health, mental wellbeing and all-round having a holistic approach,” Batson said.
Batson who last visited Barbados sometime ago in the 1980s emphasised the need to have good coaches and proper playing facilities which he explained would aid in the development of the players.
Batson who holds a British Empire award (OBE) also played for England B team and was part of Cambridge United and West Bromwich Albion, said more than ever there are greater opportunities in football particularly for the women’s side of the game.
“As you are looking to develop players, Emmerson has touched on it, you need them to be exposed to good facilities but also good coaches. How do you get better players? It is by having good coaches and decent facilities. That is what we are looking to achieve because there is talent out there.
“The women’s game out there has grown exponentially and I think young women can now see that they potentially can get a career out of football. They need to have the educational side because of the risk involved in playing professional sport. Everybody knows about the risks, one injury and you are looking for another career. But if you can see you got a career path in the sport you love, you can also do the educational side and you can do both.
“I think young people would be inspired by seeing success. If they can’t see it they can’t aspire to it. But if they see success happening elsewhere then they will aspire to it and there is no question across the world there is talent everywhere, you just got to nurture it,” Batson explained.