The recent announcement by the government of Barbados to invest BDS$1 million in the Barbados Cricket Association is being questioned at a time when other struggling sporting associations and federations are in dire need of funding.
National coach Alwyn Babb who has had a vested interest in Barbados’ sport for over 40-years, is querying if the recent announcement of the significant sum being injected into cricket is an olive branch being extended to the BCA for comments made by a former Barbados Labour Party member of parliament.
Babb said he was trying to wrap his brain around Prime Minister Mia Mottley’s reasoning for the investment into cricket at a time when the National Stadium badly needs to be fixed and athletes have been deprived of that facility for quite a while.
“I don’t know if it is an olive branch to a sport where it was said any idiot can play cricket. . . I am not envying cricket for getting a million dollars but other sports are making a significant contribution to Barbados at the Olympic level, that if cricket needs a million dollars, then the other sports need access to two or three million dollars more.
“I am still trying to wrap my head around what would prompt such a significant investment in one sport. I have never heard cricket having to be out there begging for money or support for any competitions or tours. We have a situation where players are maintained on retainer contracts. We have a situation where we have significant competitions in the region where players (cricketers) are remunerated in a significant way,” Babb said.
The veteran track and field coach pointed out that there may be a disconnect between the current sporting ministry and the Prime Minister.
“It tells me that there is some disconnect between the current sporting ministry and the Prime Minister of Barbados because since 2018 we knew that there is a need for a stadium, not only one but there was also a call for another facility in another part of the country to ease some of the traffic that came into the national stadium.
“I am saying that we have not seen a drive or even an investment, not for a stadium but to replace the track. We were told that it (track) is on its way, we were told that it is being repaired, we were told that they are thinking where to lay it. Based on what was quoted by the minister [of sports] Blenheim was one of the places to put down the new track or down by Usain Bolt. Are you telling me that the stadium is a condemned facility and there is no other consideration for the venue at Waterford?” Babb questioned..
He believes that the money could be better spent. “We went to the Olympics Games and we have heard about the horror stories of athletes who had to curtail their professional development because of the unavailability of funds.
“We have heard other federations complain that there is a lack of money for development, we have heard federations complain about the high cost of duties on uniforms that need to be used by the same athletes at international competitions. How then could any person justify giving a sport, one sport and not a sporting program, a million dollars?”
Babb expressed concerns that during this COVID-19 period sports at all levels has been suffering because there is a serious disconnect between those involved in the sports and persons in officialdom.
Babb, who has produced some of Barbados’ most talented performers in track and field and has a vested interest in youth development, said that instead of investing a million dollars in the BCA alone, the opportunity was missed to announce a national sports policy.
“If cricket, as we know, needs a million dollars then how much more does the other sports need? I think the opportunity was lost to announce a significant sports policy and everything was not about money. Yes, we need money but I think the significant opportunity was lost to speak about a sports policy that brings along all sports, that gives the young people a chance to feel that if I choose volleyball, this is what is in it for me.
“We don’t play cricket as a nation on the international stage…We play cricket as a region. So, how many Barbadian young men will get a chance to make the West Indies team? How many? Whereas in the other sports, each country is represented individually. We have volleyball teams, we don’t have West Indies volleyball teams, we have Barbadian volleyball teams, we have Barbadian netball teams, so I don’t know what prompted that one million dollars.
“We need to have a connection about what is needed and where the money is really needed. If you understand sports you need to have a connection. That means somebody has lost connection of where funding is needed in sports. There is a serious disconnect of what is really happening or what is really needed in sports in Barbados,” Babb said.