Efforts to put road tennis on world map
There are major plans in store for Barbados’ indigenous sport of road tennis and the principal organisers of the game in the island say the intention is to take it global.
Chief executive officer of the Professional Road Tennis Association (PRTA), Dale Clarke, told Barbados TODAY they would be looking to conduct several exhibition tournaments around the region while at the same time distribute a video throughout the Caribbean called How To Play which would teach persons the basic rules of road tennis.
“We would be looking to go through the region where we would be doing exhibition tournaments. We have spoken to one of our sponsors, a regional company, because that would fast-track road tennis on the island. We would be looking at a video called How To Play which would be distributed throughout the region and not just Barbados. We will visit other islands around the Caribbean and do our promotions, pass on the video to the primary and secondary schools and take the tennis to the highest level which would jump start the interest,” Clarke explained.
The PRTA was responsible for the Monarchs Of The Court tournament held in Barbados for the first time this year and they would be in charge of staging the upcoming lucrative Massy United Insurance Clash Of The Titans for the second year on November 9. The preliminary matches will be played at Coverley, Christ Church while the semi-finals and finals will be played at the Ranch off the Spring Garden Highway, with the tournament being broadcast live on television via Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) and SportsMax to give the tournament international exposure.
First prize for the recently held Monarchs Of The Court competition was $10,000 and according to Clarke the cash prize and stakes for this year’s competition will be much higher in the Massy United Insurance Clash Of The Titians tournament.
Clarke told Barbados TODAY that the goal of PRTA was to take road tennis global. He noted that even though the global awareness was there it was important that organizers got the correct structure in place first from the primary level through to tertiary in order to take the sport forward.
“The reality is the majority of the [road] tennis players now are in their late forties and these are our top players. So we have to get new youth players coming in and right now there is only one road tennis coach in Barbados and it is not possible for one road tennis coach to go to all the primary and secondary schools in Barbados. I believe they should concentrate on getting more coaches even though we are going through a recession. It might be difficult to employ people but you can partner with the Ministry of Education to do a two-weeks course at the National Sports Council to certify the physical education teachers about road tennis and then you would not have the excuse of only having one coach,” Clarke explained.
He added: “After all the sport was originated here in Barbados and we should have over a thousand players. We should not be hearing ‘oh it has this potential’ like what we have been hearing for the past five decades. For example, at the University of the West Indies you have basketball, football and all other sports being played so why not incorporate road tennis?”
Clarke said the association was also looking at the sport from a sports tourism standpoint.
“People are flying to Barbados for road tennis tournaments and therefore we are creating a sports tourism product and that is how we are looking at it.”
He noted road tennis was just perceived as a poor man sport but it has got to the stage where it has been accepted by all Barbadians and that had to do with a great deal of marketing which they had invested into the sport.
“My team and I concentrate on marketing because that is what we find is lacking in sports generally in Barbados. We try to produce a product that is exciting and also that is family oriented,” he stated.
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