Road tennis has gained international attention with three African countries expressing interest, says Minister of Youth, Sport and Community Empowerment Charles Griffith as he spoke during this morning’s launch of the Barbados Road Tennis Open tournament.
While at the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex this morning where Griffith addressed a group of road tennis enthusiasts including the godfather of road tennis Deighton ‘Pa’ Roach and many other familiar faces in the industry, the minister while opting not to name these countries that have shown an interest, said they had reached out to have road tennis as part of their culture.
“One of the things I am pleased about is the fact that our brothers in Africa are reaching out in relation to road tennis. To that end it means we must have persons who are skilled at coaching level in order to go to Africa to showcase road tennis at that particular level,” Griffith said.
The minister explained that this level of interest can only augur well for Barbados’ indigenous sport which has the potential to create job opportunities in the areas of coaching and officiating.
In the not too distant future, Griffith said he hopes to see a regional road tennis championship which in his opinion was very much needed before taking the sport on to the international stage.
“We are looking to certify coaches, we will vet them because obviously, coaches who are going overseas on behalf of the government to promote this sport must be our ambassadors. So, we will vet those coaches to ensure we have quality for export. It will provide employment, it will provide an opportunity for those coaches to embrace the new culture and to promote Barbados as a place to be.
“I am hoping that in the not too distant future we can stage a Caribbean championship here on the island. The fact that it is here on the island means we must promote it in the region before we look to go to the international level. And if we do that then I am sure that those youngsters who are skilled at road tennis would be able to make a living out of this particular sport. So, it is not just a situation where it is being treated for fun but it is a way of people being able to earn,” Griffith explained.
Just last year road tennis featured at the 2020 Dubai Expo and the Barbados delegation that attended described the event as a major success. Also, it is no surprise that the African countries are showing interest in road tennis given that in April this year the President of the Republic of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, was in Barbados and tried his hands at playing.
During his address, Griffith also announced that a month ago cabinet approved the National Sports Policy and embedded in that policy are two main sports, cricket and road tennis, that will be treated as the plank going forward.
“There are two main sports that we are treating as the plank going forward, cricket for reasons that are known to all of us, the fact that we have turned out more talented cricketers than any other country on this earth in terms of where they would have reached. Road tennis is the other discipline within that document that is of prominence because it is the indigenous sport and the fact that we are looking to grow road tennis not only here on island but at the national level, it is given that prominence in the national sports policy,” the minister shared.