Sports has a vital role to play in the economic landscape of Barbados and to provide job opportunities for young men and women, says Minister of Youth, Sports and Community Development, Dwight Sutherland.
This afternoon Minister Sutherland met five of Barbados’ talented junior athletes from the Barbados Wrestling Association (BWA) at the Grantley Adams International Airport to wish them well at the 2021 Continental Championship in Mexico.
“Sports is one of the avenues through which persons can earn a living and a career. Gone are the days when we see sports just being sports for recreational purposes. Sports has a vital role to play in the economic landscape of this country and to provide job opportunities for young men and women.
“It pleases me when I see the age group 15 to 18 specifically because this is where we ought to be focusing on, the young men and women in an effort to build back what we once had within various disciplines of football, cricket – like a vibrant sporting industry within boxing, specially those two disciplines, boxing and wrestling,” Sutherland said.
The five competitors are 15-year-old Makayla Browne of The Ellerslie School – the lone female on the team, Adrian Maynard of The Alleyne School (15 years old), Deshon Skeete from the Barbados Learning Centre (20) along with Shavere Tempro (18) and Keon Sobers (18) from the Barbados Youth Advance Corps.
During his remarks, Minister Sutherland stated that sports had a vital role to play in all the pillars of sustainable development in the island and noted that peer mentorship was needed in Barbados.
“I always say our policy as a government is to ensure that we empower our young men and women so that Barbados becomes the best place for young people to live, work, raise a family and to do business. Some may think that we are only focusing on anti-violence, that is also critical but what is more fundamental is to give these young men and women the skills that they too can become mentors of their own peers.
“Peer mentorship is lacking in this country. We often look to adults to do the necessary mentoring but we have what it takes within the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment and also a holistic government approach to give our young people the necessary skills so they can mentor those who have challenges whether it is socially and to make them good citizens in this country,” he explained.
Sutherland also made special mention of the work of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc in the development of Beach Wrestling.
“We cannot in no way underscore the importance of sports tourism in this country because that is the way we will generate revenue in a meaningful way. Not only bring the tourists to the sun, sea and sand but we believe that sports is another avenue through which we can attract a number of countries and tourists to this beautiful island.
“So, I want to put on the record the recognition of the BTMI and [the] role it has played in the beach wrestling…We will continue to work as a team to ensure that beach sports is one of the areas that if we are indeed building over a vibrant sporting industry, then beach sports has to be on the cards,” Sutherland stressed.
President of the BWA Rollins Alleyne was in attendance and thanked all those who played a part in making the trip a reality. Several parents and well-wishers were also present to see the team off.
The team is physically, mentally and tactically ready, said national coach Yaima Payne who recently created history for Barbados at the 2021 United States of America Open Masters Beach Wrestling in Jacksonville, Florida. Payne believes that team Barbados has what it takes to bring back some medals and fellow coach Roland Phillips also shared the same sentiments.
“The training was not a hundred percent because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We had some issues because wrestling as a combat sport you must train with a partner. So, most of the time we do technically one by one or back shadow. Most of the time we do physical work out, mentally and physically. So I think the guys are going to perform very well and I think we can bring some medal home and qualify for the Pan American Championship in Cali, Colombia,” Payne said.