By Neto Baptiste
Antigua and Barbuda’s first Carifta medallist and local businessman, Bertsfield Martin, believes the country has regressed as a nation where it pertains to sports and that those in authority are either unwilling or incapable of putting it on the right track.
Speaking on the Good Morning Jojo sports show, Martin who is the owner of the popular Brownie’s Bakery, won bronze for Antigua and Barbuda in shot put at the 1974 Carifta Games. He believes, however, that sports is no longer a priority for those in authority.
“When I look at track & field today, we are still almost the same place we were 40 years ago and that’s why I don’t even get involved because there is a lack of organisation, lack of planning. We don’t even have a decent school programme, we don’t have a decent coaching programme and I can go on and on because nobody wants to do things the right way. In Antigua we like to do things halfway and we put people who don’t have the ability to be managers to manage stuff,” he said.
Martin, who has played an integral role in sports within the Point and Villa communities, remembered that during his years as an athlete, there were organised competitions between Antigua and Barbuda and a number of neighbouring islands that were used to better prepare our athletes.
“We had two inter-schools sports between Antigua, St Kitts, Montserrat, Anguilla every year but those things don’t happen anymore and if we could have done that when we were poor, then how can’t we do it now when we supposedly have money and we are more organised and better off? But as I said, when you don’t have good planners and managers then you’d just go from up and come down and people would want to know why, but everyone knows and don’t want to fix it,” he said.
The businessman said there needs to be better structures within the school programmes with all stakeholders playing their part.
“I would try to get all my coaches together because we have to go to the primary schools and put in a solid plan and there would be a model where all the schools would be taught the same principles in track and field, in football, in cricket, in basketball. We would start them at six years old and that model would go right up until they are 11 or 12 years old and when you get to the secondary schools you’d have a model for that particular age group,” Martin said.
Martin, through his bakery, has sponsored a number of teams and sporting events throughout Antigua including his childhood football team, Westham FC.