Lack of development programme hurting athletics in Barbados
Former National Sports Council coach Michael Jules believes Barbados needs to implement a developmental programme tailored towards younger athletes in order to improve local track and field.
“There has been a lot of talk over the years about it,” Jules said.
“It has to start with the children coming out of primary schools into the secondary schools. Athletes are identified with ability and there is a programme in place that they can really benefit from quality coaching outside of a club, because some might not be in a club, but have talent. There has to be some way of honing that talent and keeping them interested.”
Jules was sharing his thoughts in the wake of the performance by Barbados at the 50th CARIFTA Games in The Bahamas. The team returned with 11 medals – two gold, six silver and three bronze – the same as last year in Jamaica.
When asked about the obstacles preventing such a programme, Jules replied “I don’t think there are any, I just think it is not done. It is not done at all. It’s just like you sit down and hope. That seems to be the case.”
He continued: “There are a lot of clubs around and I would never say anything negative about them, because I think the club system is good. But within a club system, you also need to have a cadre of coaches because it is difficult for one person to coach sprints, hurdles, jumps, throws, middle distance. It is difficult. The athlete can’t really benefit from something like that.”
In 2010, the organisers of the National Primary Schools Athletics Programme (NAPSAC) introduced the Jumpstart programme which was aimed at both training and competition. Athletes were taught the fundamentals of running, jumping and throwing as well as the rules of the sport and competed in three events – including the Relay Fair – ahead of NAPSAC. That died a natural death, but quite a number of those athletes went on represent Barbados.
Jules said what would be of benefit to the up and coming athletes were more opportunities to compete against their regional and international peers.
“We fall down a bit there I guess because of geography,” he explained. “You take a place like the Bahamas, which is just an hour away from the US (United States of America) mainland. They can easily hop over to Miami and compete. Our kids hardly get to compete anyway.
“If you have guys who are going to CARIFTA but they just compete at the Barbados Secondary Schools Athletic Championship (BSSAC) and then they go to CARIFTA and after that, what else is there? We have to also look at opportunities for our athletes to compete against regional and international competition,” Jules noted. (JC)