Ministry ‘for sport only’
There should be an entire ministry dedicated to sports so athletes can benefit more through academies and specialised programmes.
This is the suggestion of Barbados Football Association’s general secretary Edwyn Wood, who was commenting after National Sports Council chairman Mac Fingall said the mindset about sports should change.
“For years, sports has always been like a stepchild to other things. From a Government standpoint, we had a Ministry of Education and Sports, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Ministry of Culture and Sports. If we’re seriously talking about pushing sports, sports in itself really deserves to be a ministry or entity by itself with people dedicated to advancing its cause and helping athletes on a daily basis in Barbados,” Wood charged.
Using football as an example, he said academies similar to the Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme should be bigger.
“We have academies, but if there is a ministry that pushes sports they have an opportunity to source funding that can effectively manage these projects. As the chairman of the Sports Council said a lot of these people have their day jobs, and they are expected to go and perform in a particular sport after working a whole day and excel. That cannot be.
“But if you have a person dedicated to athletics, then let that be what he or she is living to do...that way we can generate more success and benefits to sports people,” he said.
The veteran footballer and coach explained the way the academies would work was once an athlete showed an interest, or was talented enough, as early as leaving primary school, he would be enrolled where he lived and be fed off sports.
“Academics must still be involved but we would be grooming our sports men and women from an early age,” he explained.
Another area of interest Wood said a sporting ministry could focus on was sports tourism.
“We should have facilities where we can make money directly from sports tourism. Hockey is a prime example. The international festival has gone from a lot of teams to a trickle of what it used to be. Once that is coordinated right, we can make money from that sporting festival.
“We can get a lot more of that once we can get a ministry focused on making these things happen for young people, and seeing it as a career instead of a recreational avenue,” he said.
While he noted it would be “difficult at this time considering the economic climate”, he said efforts should be put into places like the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex which could be fashioned similar to the IMG Academy in Florida, where regional tournaments could be held.
“If this is fully developed like IMG, where different sporting disciplines can come, then it will auger well for all involved.
“Projects like these can help drive sports in Barbados. We have to stop making sport at sports. I think we could really do a lot more.”