Sunday, March 3, 2024

Sport business ‘untapped’


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Sun, sea, sand and sportsmen? Seems Barbados has another resource it can exploit. New Sports Minister John King says the country’s struggling economy stands to benefit from an untapped sporting industry that can produce professional athletes for export.

“I think the first thing we have to do is change our mindset of what sport is all about. Yes, there’s a recreational aspect to it [and] a health aspect to it.

“But sports is a billion-dollar business of which we in Barbados are not capitalising on in the way that we can,” explained King in a wide-ranging interview with SATURDAY SPORT.

Improve standards


“We’ve got to take our sporting bodies and our games more seriously so that we can have professionals in most disciplines or at least have people who are up to the standards that they can be exported.

“Now I’m not saying you have to have Messis and Ronaldos, but there are very many different layers of professional sports and all I’m saying is that we must aim towards getting our young people to be professional sportsmen.

“Once we do that, then all the other things that go along with sports, like the business aspect, become open to us. Not everyone is actually going to be a sportsman, but we should be looking to have physiotherapists, coaches, trainers, medical doctors and everything that is associated with sports,” he added.

It’s just part of an overall plan to make sports a viable income stream by tapping into a global industry estimated to be worth anywhere between US$480 to $620 billion.

Already Barbados has benefited from having a number of cricketers like Dwayne Smith, Jason Holder and Carlos Brathwaite plying their trade overseas in professional T20 leagues all over the world.

Now, according to King, his ministry is seeking to create semi-professional leagues in many of the mass-based team sports like football, basketball and netball as a means of providing young people with more career options here at home.

Manifesto promise


And that’s keeping in line with the Barbados Labour Party’s recent manifesto that promised the party would fully capitalise on professional opportunities in cricket, road tennis and water and beach sports.

“We want to look at sports in a holistic way and start putting things in place so by at least 2030 we can have a completely different standard than what we have. So that means looking at sports completely different,” explained King.

“We have to raise the standards that exist like how people get into national teams, how people get into West Indies cricket and that sort of stuff. We’ve got to raise our standards and we’ve got to think global because it’s all right for you to win CAC Games and CARIFTA, but we have to put our focus on being competitive on the world stage. So we have to look at it as business and I think once we begin to do that – especially considering the crunch that the island is in – then we can find more income streams,” he added. (JM)


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