Min­istry ‘for sport only’

Daily Nation (Barbados) - - Sport 3 - By Rachelle Agard rachel­lea­[email protected]­tionnews.com

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.

‘Source fund­ing’

“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.

Sports tourism

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.”

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