The lack of commitment to sports in Barbados is exemplified in a dilapidated National Stadium.
Two voting events caught the interest last week. First the election of a Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) and the announcement Olympian Obadele Thompson has thrown his hat in the ring to challenge for president of the Barbados Olympic Association.
It was reported Conde Riley was returned as president with 75 votes to narrowly fend off Calvin Hope 72 votes and Senator Gregory Nicholls 37 votes. A grand total of 184 votes were gathered between the three candidates. From all research the BCA registers a membership of close to three thousand members. At a time cricket is struggling to maintain its position as the preeminent sport in Barbados, less than 200 members showed the interest to vote for a president of the BCA.
The other related news was 2000 Olympian Obadele Thompson’s announcement to challenge for a director’s seat at the Barbados Olympic Association (BOA). What makes his decision interesting is the fact he lives in the United States of America. How does it reflect on the local talent Thompson feels compelled to contribute to the development of sports in Barbados via Zoom? In defense, we live in a Digital Age.
For many years the blogmaster has been encouraging sitting and former sports administrators to speak out on the challenges affecting local sports associations. As if analogous to what happens in the political sphere with the so called political directorate closing ranks, so too similar occurs with local sporting officials. There is the common occurrence of the same faces rotating every year through the different positions. Also a common occurrence is the poor governance resulting in non performance.
The blogmaster grew up in an era Barbados – a tiny island -represented itself proudly on the regional and international arena. We dominated volleyball on the regional front and were not too far behind Jamaica and Trinidad in netball. In football we held our own against Trinidad and Jamaica and international touring teams feared playing the Barbados cricket team. Table tennis, draughts, cycling, horse racing and several ‘minor’ sports we were competitive outside of Barbados. In recent years there has been a precipitous decline in the performance of local sports while other countries in our peer group have leapfrogged us. The question is why.
The simple answer is without a smart plan and adequate resources, we will continue on a path to nowhere. There is no national sports program although promised by successive ministers of sport. The lack of commitment to sports in Barbados is exemplified in a dilapidated National Stadium. It is difficult to believe a renaissance in sporting fortune is possible anytime soon. The failing economic fortunes of Barbados guarantees that the big ticket interest like education, housing and health priorities will attract the bulk of the national budget. Then there is declining interest by an apathetic and cynical public to become to volunteer which is required at the grassroots level especially to breath life into sporting activity. It is true to say community practitioners like Hamilton Lashley et al are a dying breed.
There is the saying we are what we eat. Our non performing national sports culture reflects the type of society we have become. It is doing the little things that make the big works happen. A small island 21×14 cannot afford to grow an impersonal culture. The group that stands to lose the most is the youth. We are are not building a better society if we continue to block pathways that give our youth hope. We need bold leadership to emerge from all areas of society, political, non governmental/civic.