The decision to send a team to participate in the 2014 Commonwealth Games comprised of 104 athletes and officials has stuck in the BU throat like a fish bone. Barbados was represented in Athletics, Badminton, Boxing, Cycling Road, Cycling Track, Judo, Netball, Rugby Sevens, Shooting, Swimming, Table Tennis and Triathlon. Compared to Bahamas which sent 45 athletes to the same games reported to be the largest ever, a few questions need to be directed at decision makers of the national sports program in Barbados because we continue to make sport at sports. No need to mention that Jamaica sent a 114 member team to the same games.
BU appreciates that the Barbados Olympic Association (BOA) should not be involved in the management of the individual sports association but he who pays the piper calls the tune. The fogies who administer sports in Barbados must have known there was no justification to send netball, badminton, rugby, shooting and a few other teams to the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Affected by scarce financial resources, the result of prolonged depressed economic economies in many Caribbean countries, isn’t there a reasonable expectation that judicious decisions must be seen to be made by our leaders? If the average Barbadian were to have been asked if any of the teams sent to the 2014 Commonwealth Games had a chance to achieve fourth position the answer would probably have been a resounding no! The track and field team was the only team to reach the finals in their events.
Would it not have made more sense to carve out a significant slice of the 2014 Commonwealth Games budget to give high level exposure to athletes in dire need of exposure, instead of unrealistically expecting them to move from B standard to A standard performance expecting gold, silver and bronze performances ? Here is what Neil Murrell, Acting Director of Sports at the National Sports Council had to say when he greeted the team on their return from Glasgow.
We know that the finances would not be what we had in the past and we would obviously have to look at selectively choosing the teams that we feel would give us a chance at a medal,” said Murrell. He noted that they were aware that the athletes needed exposure to a lot of high level competition in order to effectively compete at the standard of the Commonwealth Games.
BU was unforgiving last year in response to the bungling that resulted in the cancellation of NAPSAC and BSSAC last year. We were also sceptical about Barbados’ ability to mobilize after the London Olympics to be ready for the Rio 2016 Olympics. The unsupported optimism by chef de mission Cameron Burke of the BOA that the performance of the team at the 2014 Commonwealth was encouraging is bullshit to be frank. Burke has not done his credibility any good by couching his report about Barbados Commonwealth Games performance in diplomatic lingo.
We are about 711 days until the 2016 Olympics. What realistic expectations should Barbadians have about the health of our national sports program to produce quality athletes. BU is steadfast to the view that a vibrant sports program is mandatory for a small country like Barbados especially with trending youth unemployment in high double digits.