Minister promises new stadium
Minister of Sports Stephen Lashley has reiterated Government’s intention to construct a new national stadium at Waterford, St Michael. He made this commitment while delivering the feature address at the media launch of the Soccerex Americas Forum at Hilton Barbados yesterday.
“On each occasion international football officials visit Barbados they tour the National Stadium and say it is not up to standard. The Government of Barbados is aware of the role sports can play in the development of the country and it is our intention to develop the facilities which will help us with this initiative,” Lashley said.
In April this year, the president of the Union of European Football Associations, Michel Platini, speaking to journalists at a press conference said the National Stadium was outdated and a disaster. Six weeks later, president of the Confederation of Caribbean and North America Football Associations (CONCACAF) told the press he was heartbroken over the condition of the National Stadium .
Lashley said the Cabinet was aware that sports on the island could not be fully developed without the proper facilities. The minister explained that he was preparing a Cabinet Paper which included the building of a multi-purpose facility at the site of the National Stadium.
“This facility will not cater only to football, it will be a venue for track and field events also,” the minister explained.
He welcomed the staging of the Soccerex Americas Forum on the island later this year.
“The Soccerex Americas Forum fits well with our plans for the development of sports on the island. The government is focusing on the development of sports businesses. We are hoping to host a Career Sports Symposium in September or October this year. One of the major objectives of the Ministry of Sports is to expose our young people to the organizational aspect of sports and to encourage them to create sports businesses. The Soccerex Americas Forum provides the opportunity to make them aware of the business of sports,” Lashley said.
Chief Executive Officer of Soccerex Duncan Revie said he was elated that the first Americas Forum would be held in a country with such a huge sporting passion.
“It will provide a great location to start our time in the region and to continue our efforts of strengthening within the Americas. With all this beautiful island has to offer, there is not a better background to do business,” Revie said.
According to Revie, Soccerex Forums were previously held in Europe and Africa but this is the first occasion it will be held in the Americas.
“There were bids from several cities in North America to host the Forum. As a regular visitor to Barbados, I was very happy when I met with the Barbados Tourism Authority last year and they agreed to be the hosts for the first Soccerex to held in the Americas.”
Revie said over 1000 persons were expected to attend the Forum. Adrian Elcock, the chairman of the BTA, said the Forum fitted well with the sports tourism product his association was using to woo visitors to the island.
President of the Barbados Football Association Randy Harris said his association welcomed the staging of the forum in the island. Harris stated that Soccerex gelled well with the business side of football which was a key focus of the BFA.
President of the Caribbean Football Union Gordon Derrick described the region as the last frontier for football. He sated that the staging of the Soccerex Forum in Barbados should be grasped by the region with both hands.
The forum is the leading networking platform for the American soccer industry and provides opportunities for collaborations among the decision-makers from all sectors of the global game.