What a Carifta Games Tragedy for Barbados

DAVID COMISSIONG, Former President, United Athletic Club (UAC)

So, Barbados’ athletes  won a mere 12 medals at this year’s Carifta Games— down from last year’s total of 21, and one of our country historically lowest Carifta medal totals for many years now.

But none of this should surprise us. Almost exactly one year ago I wrote an article in which I referred to “the devastating impact” that the sad neglect, deterioration and closure of our country only national Track and Field stadium would have on our athletes, psychologically and otherwise.

When a National Sports Council, a Ministry of Sport, or a Government could so callously neglect their responsibility to maintain and preserve Barbados’ national stadium that the facility is condemned and closed, they are sending a very negative subliminal message to the athletes of the nation. And that message is :- “We really don’t care too much about you or your Sport !”.

So, in addition to the damage and dislocation to the national Track and Field programme that the loss of the stadium as a fully functioning facility wrought, there is the more subtle psychological damage that was and continues to be inflicted .

There is also the tragic joke of the Ministry of Sport publishing a drawing of a spanking new $150Million national stadium on the front page of the Nation newspaper a full year ago and assuring the  traditionally gullible Barbadian public that plans for the construction of this new impressive facility were “in the pipe-line”. At the time I publicly referred to the news story and the talk of plans being “in the pipe-line” as an “All Fools Day joke”!

This is what I wrote in April 2016 in a Press Release entitled “Is It An All Fools Day Joke” :-

“I maintain that this story qualifies as a “joke” because when one actually reads the reported speech of Minister of Sports Stephen Lashley, one discovers that:-

. “funding is not currently available within the normal financing arrangements of the Government…”

.  “perhaps we will start it on a phase basis…”

.  “we are going to have to look at the possibility of getting grant funding, and that is what we are really preoccupied        with now….”

.  ” the sports council will be looking at a crowd funding initiative….. although this initiative can be somewhat slow…”

In other words, there is no money available for this project, and the Government really does not have much of a clue as to where money can or will come from !”

Almost exactly one year after publishing that impressive drawing of a new national stadium the Minister of Sport finally speaks about the matter, but has nothing to say about the “grant funding” or the “crowd funding initiative” that they were supposed to be actively pursuing, other than to make some vague and nebulous request to Barbadians to each contribute a $10 bill.

So, we are just not serious about this. Indeed, we are “making sport” at our young athletes and doing them a grave injustice. It is really a sad and tragic situation.


  • I wonder what the true story on Mary Fraser is?

    Everyone agrees that she is gold medal material but…..all we are hearing is a load of buts and excuses.


  • Agreed Vincent. Something is not right with this ‘Mary Fraser’ story. ANytime we get Mr. LYnch ‘larging off’ on athletes or athletics watch out!


  • Wasn’t/isn’t Fraser poorly managed.


  • fortyacresandamule

    Carifta medals aint much to cry about. How many of our Carifta medalists over the years have made the transition to world champions or even made an Olympic final? Truth be told, the sport of Track&Field has never been our passion or focus like The Bahamians or Jamaicans.Thompson and Braithwaite achievements, while inspiring, are too few and rare.

    The sport of cricket has always been our national strength and passion. Cricket put us on the MAP. Now it’s a joke…a national tragegy to say the least. The Bahamians on the other hand, were never good cricketers. However, The Bahamas has won multiple medals at the Olympics and World championships. We should try and learn from them.


  • @fortyacresandamule

    True to a point but do you know how many Barbadian athletes have done the US college thing and have lived comfortably as a result?

    The point to consider is how does one measure success in sports for a country.


  • Perfectly correct David. Every year under the radar (likely a good thing) students travel to US and other places on scholarships based on their prowess on the field of sports: hockey, soccer, track and field, a few with cycling also I believe and other sports.

    Of course it’s all about the diligence and outstanding work of the ‘anonymous’ coaches and other local officials.

    And to your point these folks get an education academically and most importantly an education in the rigors of life outside their Bajan comfort zone. Both, sets them on a path for a job or profession.

    A young lad or lass travelling to Kansas or NJ in the joyful sunshine of August and dealing with the brutal cold in January helps you to ‘grow up’ rather quickly!!

    Carifta is a first step for many of those aspirants.


  • 1) I believe Mary said she was ill coming up to the athletic season. So she was now coming into form late in the season, and didnt meet the qualifying times. But that being said, she should of been sent given her performances at Inter-School sports.They were late selections of athletes in the past. Why wasnt this done for Mary? Also, didnt you guys hear how those ‘coaches’, ‘ex-coaches’ and commentators talk about Mary during inter-school sports commentary that was streaming? Her excellent performances were NEVER enough for them. She won all her races by far but it was still never enough. Talked about how she should concentrate on athletics only and then in another breathe praised a boy athlete for being involved in multiple sports and still being a great track athlete etc, damn hypocrites! And the same boy couldnt touch Mary’s performances at all. Those comments could deject any athlete that’s not strong mentally. Is it because she goes to St. Lucy Sec? Is it because she doesnt train with a elite club, so none of the ‘coaches’ cant get any of the glory? Dont take my word for it, the vids are on YouTube. 2) Hardly any girls were sent this year because they were sub-par. I not sure whats going on with local female athletes. 3) They boasted that Barbados would surpass the 20 medals because of the ‘strength’ of the male teams. Next time they should lower expectations. 4) The Carifta officials should have kept J. Jones to run the 800m and 1,500m, his strongest events in my opinion. He failed miserably at the 400m. However the excuses have already poured in about ‘his 1st year in under 20’. Psftt, he was fighting for the 2nd-last position. 5) We use to complain that the track at the stadium was hampering athletes, a new track was laid. Now this author is saying that its the entire stadium. Didnt Barbados win 20 medals last year with the stands out of order? When a new stadium is built and there are still sub-par performances at these meets, what will the excuse be then? I believe its the level of coaching, lack of competition for local athletes, and lack of track and field sporting culture. Many parents dont want their kids to be too involved in track and field at all.


  • fortyacresandamule

    @David. USA college (NCAA ) success is too much of a low bar for my taste. Why settled for that, what about producing world beaters like we did in cricket?

    Now, in this case, we are specifically talking about the sport of Track and Field. How do we measure success in this sport at the highest level? Three competitions along with medals, placement, and ranking come to mind. The Commonwealth games, IAAF World Championship in Athletics, and the Olympics. So, where do we stack-up against the competition? In this case, I am going to use The Bahamas as a reference point, because of relatively similar population size and standard of living.

    At every level of those three competitions above,The Bahamians have not only performed way better than us, but have punched above their weight. Example, while we have only earned one olympic medal to our name,The Bahamians have earned seventeen. Surely they are more ambitious than just becoming USA college sport stars. We should try an emulate their success.


  • Well Well & Consequences Observing Blogger

    Oh well, they want their money back.

    “CONCACAF suing Warner, Blazer
    Added by Barbados Today on April 20, 2017.

    A federal lawsuit has been filed by the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) against disgraced officials Jack Warner and Chuck Blazer, court documents have revealed.

    The governing body is seeking $20 million (£15.6 million/€18.6 million) damages “to redress the harms caused by Warner and Blazer’s fraudulent, unfair and unlawful acts as former high ranking officials of CONCACAF,” the complaint reads.

    Ex-CONCACAF president Warner is facing extradition in his native Trinidad and Tobago on charges of wire fraud, racketeering and money laundering.

    Blazer, a former FIFA Executive Committee member and former CONCACAF general secretary, struck a plea deal in 2013 and turned whistleblower for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).:”


  • @fortyacresandamule

    Have no problem with moving the bar raising the standard. The point we must agree on first is that many local athletes have benefited from access to US colleges through athletic scholarships and related programs through the years.


  • true David, much talent has been loss too for lack of real investment and policy over the years.


  • Barbados never had a sports policy, plan or structure. The passion, enthusiasm and obsession for cricket before the 1990s at “grass roots” level created the illusion that there was a cricket policy, plan or structure. But Barbadian cricket talent was not identified, nurtured and developed by any Government or relevant cricket organisation. If Barbados could not capitalise on cricket – it is very difficult to see how it could capitalise on any other sport.


  • The question Barbadians should be asking Minister Stephen Lashley then is where is the comprehensive sports policy/strategy/vision for Barbados sports BEFORE any talk about building a 20, 50 or 150 million dollar stadium.


  • @ David
    Boss, you would have to bring in someone from overseas to develop such a policy ….and also to manage it.
    The people currently in place are much too busy…..
    How often are they even on island….?
    You only get per diems when you fly….


  • @Bushie

    Sadly this is the case. It is always about greed.

    BU ha tried its best to secure any document, file, insight from people we know with little success so far.


  • LOL @ David
    You should have asked Caswell. Most trucks seem to pass by his house when it is windy….


  • @Tony Trotman at 4:23 AM re your statement that “…But Barbadian cricket talent was not identified, nurtured and developed by any Government or relevant cricket organisation…”.

    That is tad off the mark…. just a smidgen amybe! Oh lawd!

    We can lambaste the paltry state of WI cricket and your general theme that matters appear to have been badly mismanaged over the recent years but you do a terrible injustice to people like BCL stalwart and tireless champion Owen Estwick and many others before and even after him.

    That organization (and the BCA too) did the hard yards that opened the world to fellows like Griffith, Hall, Weekes et al .

    Sadly, to mention that almost forgotten history and to recall that a few years ago I read the BCL was basically defunct is to make your general point of the sad state of affairs…

    Nonetheless don’t let’s dismiss the awesome dedication and hard work of many people in one fleeting moment.

    Please also remember that for many years and still current- as far as I know- youngsters have gone to England on a few scholarship programs.

    Remember too that cricket program started by the former C&W Executive (whose name doesn’t spring to mind) back circa 2000’s and run by Roddy Estwick.

    In no small measure that can be credited with the solid development of folks like the Brathwaites and a few others from that school program who are now in the WI team or on its cusp.

    So I think it’s fair to say that there has been quite a bit of identifying, nurturing and development ….

    … just not enough at at the macro level with laser like intensity to get us to comparisons like The Bahamas.


  • BIM as a whole has never had a coherent policy/vision on anything.

    We stop start with every change of administration no continuity of any holistic plan for the country.


  • How embarrassing!

    Minister of Sport Stephen Lashley has revealed that a comprehensive revaluation of the Waterford facility being undertaken by engineers could pave the way for the condemned stands, which have been out of bounds for spectators during the last two years, to be reopened.
    Lashley said the findings of the engineers could result in temporary use of the stands until funding was obtained to demolish the existing structures and start construction work to build a new stadium.
    “The engineers have actually looked at the facility and one of the options available as far as they are looking at it, is to remove the entire roofing structure . . . ,” Lashley said.
    Please read the full story in today’s Weekend Nation, or in the eNATION edition.

    – See more at: http://www.nationnews.com/nationnews/news/95956/topless#sthash.jwmYtfeN.dpuf


  • @ Bushie who wrote ” you would have to bring in someone from overseas to develop such a policy ….and also to manage it.”

    Maybe the problem is a force field that takes away the energy and competence of professionals in Barbados.

    Most of these professionals would emigrate to Canada or the USA and instantly operate at the same level of the ” someone from overseas “


  • @ David,

    There is more money ( commissions / “facilitation fees” ) to be made in building a new stadium.

    Mash up an buy back. Let run to ruin and rebuild. That is a highly profitable strategy for some.


  • A backshot of the national stadium.


  • Good to hear Minister Stephen Lashley who is just back from 2017 Carifta Games promising a comprehensive sports policy supported by legislation, finally.



  • fortyacresandamule

    One of the ironies about West Indies Cricket today, is that, when the players were earning pittance in those days, they performed magnificently and the talent pool very deep. Nowadys it’s the opposite.


  • @de pedantic Dribbler

    My previous comment was not intended to criticise the efforts of relevant cricket organisations. But if there was or is an effective plan or policy to identify, nurture and develop Barbadian cricket talent – why is Barbadian cricket “down in the dumps”?


  • @Tony Trotman April 21, at 8:04PM
    If your original comment was not intended to criticize the efforts of cricket organizations then my remarks were not intended to reject an over-the-top critique of such efforts.

    The world of sports is filled with cases were otherwise effective schemes to identify, nurture and develop talent do not return ‘success’ for the organization or country.

    Look at examples in professional soccer or choose any league actually. Why is a team like Leeds United – which was a First Division (now Premier League) powerhouse in my youth – ‘down in the dumps’ today in the far reaches of the lower divisions despite excellent years of identifying and nurturing their youthful talent???

    Whether you accept it or not Barbados too had relatively effective talent search programs in place but now that does not translate that to on-field success and this is based on many of the same types of management gaffes that bedeviled the life of the Leeds United organization.

    Unfortunately for us Bajans that devil of terrible decision making and gaffes afflicts our ENTIRE sports structure.


  • @de pedantic Dribbler

    Let’s agree to disagree.

    I’m not aware of any formal cricket scouts or mentors who identified, nurtured and developed cricket talent while travelling around Barbados before the 1990s. Or encouraged promising cricketers to continue playing cricket. Or a young cricketer that went through a formal cricket development plan. Cricket organisations simply identified the best cricketers, e.g. to play cricket for Barbados. But they did not help those cricketers to become the best.


  • Whatever happened to the Barbados Colts cricket team. I remember young players like the late Victor Jemmott and Dick Riley playing for the Colts.


  • @Hal Austin April 22, 2017 at 12:27 PM #

    Who would a Colts team play against? Those were the days in which a tour lasted months and the touring team played a warm up games against the Barbados Colts, followed by a match against the Barbados team and then the test match. Touring team are luck if they get a 3-4 day match before for the first test match in this day and age.


  • I agree, money has taken over the game. But the Colts were us a view of the future. Although Jemmott went to Crumpton Street, I loved his batting and his spin. But he was a friend of mine.
    I also like Dick and his brother Tom, both of whom played for Combermere, and the older brother Cecil. All played for Bradford in the BCL. Big cricketing family. Neville Clarke, now of Barbados Today, was not a bad cricketer either.
    @Bajan in NY, did you play cricket at school? Our paths must have crossed.


  • @Tony Trotman at 12:24 PM … Our disagreement is moreso a different recollection and interpretation of our cricket and sporting history. To echo a comment by another blogger this is a postage stamp response.

    As far as I have read there was a ‘formal’ process in the BCL to scout and develop cricket talent…

    Again, you may choose to see it differently but the system of players representing Church Village , Brereton or whatever was the local BCL team and then being recruited to play for a place in the select BLC 1st Div team at Blenheim in the BCA competition was for many years a comprehensive and extensive system of scouting and development of cricket talent.

    I mentioned the older names of Everton Weekes and Charlie Griffith who came through that system to the extent that they then had BCL regions named in their honor. But in more recent memory there were people like Sylvester Clarke also.

    They tip the iceberg but all can fit into that context of being ‘scouted. nurtured and developed’ as they moved on to the bigger cricket world.

    Currently there is Chris Jordan the English player. Please recall that the lad actually was ‘SCOUTED’ at school and went to England on a cricket scholarship. The rest as they say is history.

    Now of course a few anecdotes does not a process make…

    … but this is after all a postage stamp posting so you can let google be your guide if you want to reflect on your position that there never was ” … any formal cricket scouts or mentors who identified, nurtured and developed cricket talent while travelling around Barbados before the 1990s. Or encouraged promising cricketers to continue playing cricket.”

    Oh one last one…I recall Capt. Peter Short moving around and strongly ‘encouraging’ one of the Reifer boys – George, I believe it was – to pursue a cricket ambition.

    Just another anecdote…but just want to highlight that your perspective does NOT gel with the reality of what actually went down back then.

    But nice stories aside, at the end of the day we are still screwed right now. On that I totally agree with you.


  • Should Barbados consider hosting the 2021 Carifta games given the poor state of the national stadium and finances.



  • David,

    Hosting regional and international games can be costly. For each of the 65 medals won by the U|K at the 2012 Olympics cost UK taxpayers £4m each. Most Olympic venues are still under-used.


  • Of course, Barbados will host the games – we are too proud to tell the Caribbean that we are broke. Will there be new or higher taxes if Mr Lashley doesn’t collect enough $10 bills from the pubic?


  • @Hal

    Not sure the setup cost for Carifta is as exorbitant as the Olympics even if one factors scale.


  • Hal keeps bringing UK issues and conditions to Bajan realities.
    But he has good questions.

    The issue is not whether Barbados should host Carifta, it is why Barbados does not have basic infrastructure for our athletes …and how come other smaller Caribbean islands, without lottery support, can do so.
    What the hell have been the priorities of our government, and of whoever else gets to spend these lottery funds?

    Barbados should be hosting multiple international sports festivals, meets, championships – if we were REALLY serious about the tourism shiite that we have chosen as a livelihood…. far less hosting the basic Carifta Games over Easter weekend.

    Some shiite is SERIOUSLY wrong, but Bajans are so dumb and gullible, that we can be robbed over, and over, and over, and over …. with the same shiite trick….. and then robbed again.

    ….but not stinking Bushie.


  • Surely someone who is literate and informed (like Artax?) can do a SIMPLE calculation of how much money Lotto provided to Government for ‘Sports and Culture’ over, lets say, the last ten years….
    Either these Lotto people are guilty of false advertising…or that money is passing through the BWA pipes….. where leakage is routinely over 50%…..

    Surely someone can ask one of the islands that have a Stadium, what it ACTUALLY COST to build it…. rather than listen to shiite estimates from our dumb-ass ministers who cannot even multiply simple numbers … or understand decimals… and who ALWAYS inflate estimates to accommodate bribe payments, campaign funding and Mommy’s deposits.

    Sometimes the victims of robbery are their own worse enemies…..


  • David,
    I am not suggesting that the costs will be similar. I am just pointing out that the regional and international games do cost lots of money.


  • Bush Tea April 24, 2017 at 7:03 AM #

    “Surely someone who is literate and informed (like Artax?) can do a SIMPLE calculation of how much money Lotto provided to Government for ‘Sports and Culture’ over, let’s say, the last ten years”

    @ Bushie

    You duz scare me, so I don’t know whether to take your comment as a compliment or sarcastic remark.

    However, a man as informed as you are should know that it is extremely difficult trying to get reports, statistics, etc, from any government agency, since such information, which should be available to the public, is treated as “guarded secrets.”

    I read on a Sports Max web-site that the Barbados Olympic Association partnered with the Barbados Lottery to launch a scratch-and-win promotion, in a bid to help athletes prepare for the Rio Games in 2016.
    In July 2016, Barbados Lottery gave the BOA US$50,000 as a reimbursement after the BOA divided its funds to support athlete preparation.

    Additionally, I also read the following in the February 27, 2017 of “The Anguillan” newspaper:

    “The Barbados and Caribbean Lottery companies have JOINTLY CONTRIBUTED over US$11.5 million in support of local good causes during 2016. Lottery beneficiary programmes include the Barbados Olympic Association, The Barbados Turf Club, The Barbados Cricket Association and the National Sports Council in Barbados.”

    As it relates the National Sports Council, when was the last time copies of their annual reports/financial statements were made available for public perusal?

    Under these circumstances, taxpayers would be unable to determine, for example, how much funds NSC actually received from the BL and how or in what aspect of sports those funds were used to finance.

    Bushie, you dun know that previous and the current inept DLP administrations have effectively subscribed to the phrase “government is a continuum,” by essentially “making sport at sports.”


  • Barbados………

    Mash up, neglect and borrow money to build back.

    Has anybody in government heard of maintenance programs?


Join in the discussion, you never know how expressing your view may make a difference.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s