The Minister of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment Charles Griffith hopes that instituting a community coaches programme will encourage more participation in sports among children.
Speaking in Parliament yesterday during the Budget debate, Griffith said that the National Sports Council was a developmental programme focused on teaching the fundamentals, and as such, the coaches attached there cannot provide the same mentorship in neighbourhoods across Barbados. The solution, as he sees it, comes in the form of a new coaching programme.
“We believe there is a need to top up what is happening in relation to the coaches so we have started a community coaches programme,” Griffith began. “It will see us train coaches in different disciplines to go back into the communities to ensure that those playing fields are occupied almost seven days a week. Too often you pass a playing field on weekends or evenings and there is no activity.”
Key to this being successful is the lights programme happening simultaneously which would see the installation of working lights at playing fields across the island so that children could play outside for longer. The Minister noted that on one particular occasion there were poles that went 20 years without being replaced. All problematic lights, which have the potential to cause security issues for those using them, will be replaced.
Griffith said: “We have a shipment of the lights that are now on their way. They are expected here by the end of the month or early next month. When they arrive you will see lights at all of those playing fields across this country. Those coaches in football, basketball and netball, we want to ensure we have them at community level functioning in a gratis way because we can not necessarily afford to pay all of them.”
He acknowledged that the coaches will primarily be people who have volunteered to give back to Barbados and instil discipline in children through sports. So far, road tennis and football coaches have begun their training and the Ministry is looking at continuing the process in other disciplines to ensure sports in Barbados is alive and well across this country.
According to the Minister of Sports, there are three stumbling blocks that have come in the form of St John, St Joseph and St Andrew which have been identified as areas that require dedicated work in order to get sports up and running to the standards which have been set.
Despite this Griffith is upbeat about what is happening inside his Ministry. “I am very, very pleased with the work happening within the Ministry in relation to not only the community centres, but the pavilions as well, because some of them are twinned together and we are utilising all of them to ensure maximum production,” he said. (JC)