The cancellation of the popular David Thompson Memorial Constituency Council Football Classic is “a mistake and a serious blow to hundreds of youth across this country”.
So says former Government minister Hamilton Lashley.
Lashley told the SUNDAY SUN that the annual out-of-season competition was a “poor man’s tournament” and would be a tremendous loss to the various communities.
“I believe that the tournament should still be playing because it fills a tremendous vacuum in the socio-development of Barbados. There is a real sense of loss.
“I know the country is enduring some economic hardship but the devlopment of Barbados cannot be measured in dollars and cents only.
“Development of Barbados has to also look at the social development and by opting not to have this tournament now is a mistake.
“The response I have been getting from every single constituency is an indication as to what this tournament means to people in Barbados,” he said.
Last week, the Ministry of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development announced that this year’s tournament had been cancelled but it will “shortly be activating the planning for a possible 2015 football tournament”. No reasons for the cancellation have been given by Minister of Social Care Steve Blackett.
Lashley, a social policy adviser to the Government, said the cancellation had to be a heartbreak for players, who had been preparing for the tournament for several weeks.
“The players were getting ready, they were looking forward to it. The older folks, too, would come out and ply their trade and for them it has to be a big loss.
“The David Thompson Memorial Football Competition was one of the biggest social stabilisers in Barbados for the young people and for poor folk. It is really a poor man’s tournament and to take it away at this time is a serious blow,” he added.
Lashley said the tournament could have been played even if it had to be scaled down to a knockout competition.
“It is like a grand social occasion that has been taken away from the young people. I suppose it is a decision that we will all have to live with but it is very unfortunate.”
The cancellation of the Thompson Classic follows that of the LIME Pelican Challenge.
“It’s a double blow. Young footballers must be disappointed at not getting the chance to play at these tournaments. Some boys play both tournaments, so it is really tough,” Lashley said.
He added that the tournament had “grown into the psyche of Barbadians”.
“We have to provide a safety net for the young people. The level of crime in this country at the moment is a real concern and I can tell you that there wasn’t a single instance of violence at last year’s tournament.”