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Push draughts too!

JUSTIN MARVILLE, [email protected]

Push draughts too!

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One of Barbados’ most decorated sportsmen wants his passion to become his profession.

Jack Francis is questioning why draughts wasn’t added to the latest National Community Sports Training Programme after saying his talents would be best utilised as a full-time coach.

The former British and Florida Open champ expressed the sentiment after becoming just the second Bajan draughts player to be bestowed the title of Grandmaster last month.

“It is a pity that my talent is wasted and underutilised because I can really help with the training of young minds through draughts.

“There are eight disciplines included in the training programme put on by the Ministry of Sports and the National Sports Council (NSC) and it is disappointing that draughts isn’t one of them because it is a mind sport than can help to stamp out the ills plaguing our society today.

“I was part of a secondary schools’ programme for over 16 years that helped in that regard by occupying and developing young minds but unfortunately it had to be terminated in 2013 due to financial constraints. I am more than willing to do this full-time so I don’t see why we can’t have it reintroduced,” he added.

The comments come in response to the launch of this year’s National Community Sports Training Programme, which caters to 1 000 young people between the ages of 12 and 21.

Apparently, Government is set to inject $100 000 into the project that will see 30 certified coaches teaching 40 hours of drills in football, cricket, netball, basketball, volleyball, road tennis, hockey and lawn tennis over a 13-week span.

Minister of Sports Stephen Lashley further revealed that the participants will get the chance to display their skills at a sports rally in January.

“Draughts really needs to be a part of this and the key would just be to get sponsors involved by way of branding or labelling the boards and pieces being used,” Francis explained.

“It’s not too late to get draughts involved because mind sports like these can really help to develop young minds and steer them away from the guns and violence,” Francis said.

An eight-time national champ, Francis is widely acknowledged for his contribution to local draughts following a near three-decade old rivalry with former world Go-As-You-Please and Three-Move Restriction King Ronald “Suki” King.

And he’s made an even bigger mark overseas after winning both the Florida and British Opens while registering a number of top five finishes at the US Open and World Qualifiers. (JM)