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Lashley promises new Gym schedule

Kimberley Cummins

Lashley promises new Gym schedule

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Minister of Sports Stephen Lashley has answered the pleas of sportspeople for increased access to the Wildey Gymnasium. 

Speaking at an appreciation ceremony for some of the island’s top athletes yesterday, Lashley promised he would meet shortly with the interim CEO of the Gymnasium Ltd, Jerry Blenman, who was present, to arrange a new scheduling regime. 

 The minister’s promise comes against the background of a number of sporting associations complaining that the gymnasium is often more accessible for entertainment events than for sporting activities.  

During the session, national volleyballer Shari Matthews added her voice to the complaints. Matthews, who was recently inducted into the Alex M Rivera Athletics Hall of Fame at the North Carolina Central University, said that volleyballers in particular were not being treated professionally. 

 In addition to requesting greater access to the gymnasium, she said that, like other sports, volleyball needed a home. 

“I know what it is to be treated as a professional. This is our profession and . . . we are not treated like professionals,” she said.

Matthews noted that national players would sometimes only have access to the gymnasium once or twice a week going into a tournament, but then they were expected to fare well against opponents who had access to facilities where they trained at least once a day.   

“Playing in the gym, we have to worry about events. . . and now we are not able to use BCC gym. Playing outdoors is not the same as playing indoors.

“For us to have these rewards coming out and not have something given back to us is hard for us to be at a level where we used to be.  

 “I was one of the lucky ones to actually get out and push myself to go further and I want to thank everyone that backed me [but] there are some things that are needed to be done for us to progress,” Matthews said. 

 Lashley gave the assurance that when completed, the new National Stadium would be a multi-purpose facility which would facilitate volleyball, among other sports.  

 He also told the gathering that his ministry had seen the immense potential of beach volleyball and that they were looking at how they could capitalise on the island’s beautiful beaches. He said that they were desirous of marketing Barbados as a training venue for overseas teams. (SDB Media)