Money key, says Riley
THE?main ingredient to fuel any move from amateur to professional ranks is hard cash.
First vice-president of the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA),?Conde Riley, made it clear that money was the main ingredient that sporting federations and sportsmen required to move to a higher level during his opening address at the Nation Talkback town hall meeting on Wednesday night at Solidarity House.
The theme of the discussion was How Do We Transform Sports In Barbados From The Amateur Status To Professional Level.
Riley said that what had set king cricket apart was that those who govern the game were futuristic and had initiated a plan where the sport had its own lottery which had generated millions of dollars and allowed it to embark on programmes where they were able to identify a core of elite players – 15 men and women – and provide them with retainer contracts.
He reminded the audience that back in the late 1990s, there were three lotteries falling under the aegis of the Barbados Olympic Association, the Barbados Turf Club and the Barbados Cricket Association.
“Government thought then it was better to harmonize these lotteries and have one national lottery,”?he said. “I think that about 42 disciplines share in that pool. That certainly cannot move Barbados’ sport from an amateur status to a professional level.” “What we have done is to take our revenue stream from the lottery and our other streams and we have tried to get now to the position where we have boys who are not just playing cricket as a pastime but they are serious about cricket and we are educating them.”
Riley said the transition to professionalism wouldn’t happen without a major injection of funds.
“The main requirement for any local organization is money. It will not happen without money. The amateurs play sport as a pastime, the professional lives from the sport, takes care of himself, his family and he invests.
“It will not happen unless the organizations are able to train the guys and get them thinking professional and the only way we can do that is with money,” he said.
Riley acknowledged that the road to professionalism was smoother for cricket because of its strong primary and secondary schools structure.
“All of the cricketers men and women are in an educational stream where you can track them right through. It is when they leave school that we lose most of them and this is where the BCA decided we must have a Centre of Excellence, where we could train them not only from the Under-11s right through to the Under-19s, but when they leave school we could still have them in a programme with five coaches, a gym while the juniors boys after they train, after dinner and we teach them about diet.
“All of this costs money and what we must focus on is how do we get the money to put these things in place,” he said.
Riley said there was financial wisdom in having one’s own lottery.
“The Barbados Olympic Association has to split their money among several disciplines while we . . . don’t have to split ours.”