BDF sports pro­gramme ter­mi­nated

Daily Nation (Barbados) - - News -

By mikek­ing@na­tion­news.com

The Bar­ba­dos De­fence Force’s (BDF) na­tional sports pro­gramme is be­ing shut down.

The nurs­ery for hun­dreds of tal­ented youths over the last three decades comes to an abrupt end at month-end.

The aban­don­ment of the sports pro­gramme means an end to op­por­tu­ni­ties that it pro­vided in cricket, foot­ball, track and field, box­ing and ta­ble ten­nis over the last 28 years.

BDF Chief of Staff Colonel Glyne Gran­num de­liv­ered the shock­ing news to stunned par­tic­i­pants and coaches at a meet­ing held on Tues­day.

Ef­forts yes­ter­day to reach new Min­is­ter of Sport John King proved fu­tile but in­formed sources told the Week­end Na­tion that the aban­don­ment of the pro­gramme was a gov­ern­men­tal cost-cut­ting mea­sure.

The lat­est crop of re­cruits had en­listed in the three-year pro­gramme only a few months ago.

“It re­ally is a breach of con­tract. All of these young men were to have been part of a three-year pro­gramme. The boys got lit­tle no­tice and it re­ally has them licked up. This is a ma­jor set­back. I don’t know what the young crick­eters will do now.

“Noth­ing was com­mu­ni­cated in writ­ing; it was a hastily ar­ranged meet­ing that was called a few days ago. I do not even think that the na­tional fed­er­a­tions were in­formed,” a source said.

Fit­ter ath­letes

The sports pro­gramme pro­duced fit­ter and stronger ath­letes and was the nur­turer since the mid-1990s of some of this coun­try’s lead­ing sports­men, in­clud­ing Test crick­eters Tino Best and Miguel Cum­mins; Olympic ath­letes Hen­rico Atkins, Roger Jor­dan and Prisca Phillips; cham­pion box­ers Ju­nior Greenidge and Shawn Terry Cox; ace foot­ballers Gregory “Lalu” Goodridge, Ho­race Stoute, John Par­ris, Wayne Sobers and Malcolm Payne, along with Caribbean ta­ble ten­nis cham­pi­ons Robert Roberts and Trevor Far­ley.

The BDF sports pro­gramme was re­spon­si­ble for the rise of ath­letes such as Joy Ann Eli, Shawn Browne, Garfield Gill and Donna Hink­son in the 90s; and the com­ing to the fore of young crick­eters such as An­to­nio Greenidge, Tevyn Wal­cott and Jameel Stu­art.

Kim­berly Git­tens, who re­cently cap­tured a bronze medal in women’s box­ing at the re­cent Cen­tral Amer­i­can and Caribbean (CAC) Games in Colom­bia, is the last out­stand­ing re­cruit of the pro­gramme.

Best was still part of the pro­gramme when he made his Test de­but against Aus­tralia at Kens­ing­ton Oval in 2003. He ac­knowl­edged that he would not have made it as an in­ter­na­tional crick­eter with­out the sports pro­gramme.

“The BDF sports pro­gramme has made me. I have got­ten all of my at­tributes such as dis­ci­pline and mind­set from the sports pro­gramme. The pro­gramme pro­duced fit­ter and stronger ath­letes,” he said.

Best is livid that the pro­gramme has been shelved.

“I am an­gry and heart­bro­ken. There are na­tional crick­eters in the sports pro­gramme; there are foot­ballers who play in the Pre­mier League. It is un­be­liev­able that af­ter so many years that the Gov­ern­ment is dis­band­ing this pro­gramme that has done so much.

“Is this the Gov­ern­ment that we just voted in? We can’t do this to the young peo­ple. You don’t put 60 peo­ple be­tween the ages of 17 and 24, who are ath­letes, to go on the streets and look for a club.

“You can’t cut sports. If there is one thing you shouldn’t cut it’s sports devel­op­ment. The big­gest star to have come out of this coun­try is Sir Garfield Sobers, a sports­man. We have to do bet­ter,” Best said.

Pres­i­dent of the Bar­ba­dos Ta­ble Ten­nis As­so­ci­a­tion, Dale Rud­der, said the de­ci­sion had se­ri­ous im­pli­ca­tions for ta­ble ten­nis and sports in gen­eral.

“This is ma­jor. I hope that this eco­nomic and fis­cal mea­sure is not per­ma­nent. We have two play­ers in the pro­gramme, teenager Dan Fran­cis and na­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tive Kris­tian Doughty. How do we ex­plain to them the way for­ward?” he said.

Di­rec­tor of cricket at the BCA, Steven Les­lie, was un­aware of the de­ci­sion, which he says will have reper­cus­sions for the BDF sports pro­gramme’s team in the Elite Divi­sion. All of those matches af­ter next month will be for­feited, he said.

(FP)

BDF Chief of Staff Colonel Glyne Gran­num.

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