• Today
    December 17

  • 07:04 AM

ON THE BALL: Why we need sports policy

JUSTIN MARVILLE, justinmarville@nationnews.com

Added 22 November 2018

bloc-on-the-ball

Well, wouldn’t you know it. I mean, a week didn’t even pass since I said there were more important things to address than the token scandal before a more important thing actually popped up.

And that’s exactly how Government should be treating the high duties facing the Barbados Turf Club with the importation of those 28 floodlights needed to start night racing at the Garrison Savannah.

Unless, of course, we’re just paying lip service to this whole “turning the economy around” business.

Yeah, I’ve already gone on record to show the possible benefit night racing can bring to Barbados, but for those of you who may have missed it then that avenue would happen to be sport tourism.

You see, this just has too much potential to be a significant foreign exchange earner for us to let something as simple as high import duties slow the growth of an industry that supports so many Bajans.

If a fair number of tourists fly in for the Gold Cup, then imagine how many more we can attract just due to the spectacle that is racing at night.

It’s not like a horse racing enthusiast from this region could go to any other major Caribbean track to catch night racing.

As I wrote before, the target market potentially goes beyond fans too, as visitors staying on the South Coast can use those race days as a precursor to a visit to St Lawrence Gap now that some of the nightclubs are rocking again on the weekends.

You’ve probably noticed I’ve only mentioned tourists, as the local who doesn’t spend his money betting on horses during the day won’t do so just because the racing is at night.

But this still shouldn’t stop the Turf Club from selling night racing as an after-work lime during the week or Friday night, considering there are still drinks and food to be sold.

And this should be of major importance to any Government, as the horse racing industry directly employs jockeys, apprentices, trainers, grooms, booth operators and countless others.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m not blaming this current Mia Mottley Administration for dragging its feet, because I get the sense that the Ministry of Finance is only now being made aware of the situation with those high import duties.

Actually, I think the Prime Minister may be a horse racing fan herself, or at the very least she understands the significance of the industry, having publicly made a call for additional race days four years ago while attending the Sandy Lane Gold Cup.

So you can call me naive, but I truly expect this matter to be resolved eventually.

The problem is that it shouldn’t have come up in the first place.

I don’t know how many more times I must write this, but Barbados will continue to go nowhere in sports until someone sees the wisdom of enacting a National Sports Policy.

And one of the chief tenets of this piece of legislation would be the automatic removal of all import duties on sporting goods, apparel, gear and equipment brought in by national federations.

Please don’t think I’m saying this only because of the present situation, because these high import taxes didn’t all of a sudden become a problem for local sports.

Just ask the Barbados Hockey Federation, who took three months simply trying to clear a new sand-based turf from the Port although that surface was donated to them.

Heck, the Barbados Cycling Union had to wait even longer while going through the same process with its BMX starting gates.

Let’s not get started with the Barbados Cricket Association’s covers.

Even an arm of Government got held back two years ago while trying to get building materials for the Wildey Gymnasium. No joke!

But we want to openly address people getting free lights at National Sports Council grounds?

No, the token scandal really isn’t an important thing right now and it’s high time we get that National Sports Policy in place.

Unless, of course we want to continually see truly more important things popping up. (JM)

 

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