Barbudan children will be able to play basketball and tennis, as the Red Cross will collaborate with two other partners to rebuild the public courts.
With a donation from the Australian High Commission, the Barbuda Council and locally-based non-governmental organization (NGO), the Be Foundation, will partner with the Red Cross to restore Barbuda’s basketball and tennis courts focusing on hurricane resiliency.
Chair of Sports and Youth for the Barbuda Council, Sharima Deazle-Myers, said she was elated to be working with the Red Cross on this project.
“The absence of proper facilities to play sports has impacted the children of Barbuda tremendously,” noted Deazle-Myers, adding, “The children have shown tremendous resolve in the face of Hurricane Irma, and the time it has taken since the hurricane to restore the island to full functioning.
“We are elated to partner with the Red Cross and the Be Foundation to see these facilities restored, especially in a manner that can help to ensure that a long disruption to children’s physical activity does not happen again, if we are faced by another serious storm.”
Speaking on the plans to fully restore the only basketball and tennis courts on the island, Deazle-Myers stated, “We would love to see players coming from Antigua and other islands to engage in activities on these special courts. This requires that we also build proper change and storage facilities that athletes can use before and after games.”
An extensive contractor selection process will be spearheaded by the Red Cross, while the partners will utilize the services of Florida-based Caribbean Courts to erect modern nets and court floors that can be disassembled and packed in secure facilities in case of a hurricane.
President of the Antigua and Barbuda Red Cross, Michael Joseph, explained, “It was important for us to not only help restore the courts in Barbuda, but to do so in a manner that takes advantage of the latest technological innovations available to countries facing natural disasters. This initiative provides an opportunity to bring these technologies to Barbuda, while working with partners on the ground that will ensure persons are properly trained in how to manage the courts, and ensuring that the children and youth take full advantage of this space again.”
The Be Foundation will lead training sessions for Barbuda Council workers in managing the facility, and coordinate youth-focused activities to relaunch these spaces.
The Be Foundation Trustee, Sean Charles, said, “We are acutely aware of how important sports are to the youth of Barbuda and that Barbudans are making their mark around the country and the world after getting their start on these very courts.”
Charles also appealed to local and international donors with a passion for youth development and sports to join this initiative.
He said, “There is no better investment than in the future generation. These children have endured more than most of us can possibly imagine, and it is time for us to come together and show our commitment to their growth and to their happiness.”
When Hurricane Irma hit the island of Barbuda in September 2017, it profoundly impacted the island’s youth, damaging Barbuda’s primary and secondary schools, and spaces where young Barbudans often found enjoyment were ruined beyond use.
The Red Cross, Barbuda Council and The Be Foundation expect the work to be completed by mid-July 2019, and they have commenced plans to invite donors and other supporters to Barbuda for a grand reopening.