Sports Minister says sporting culture is needed for growth in sports locally

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By Carlena Knight

The Minister responsible for Sports Daryll Matthew is under the impression that in order for sports to develop positively in the country that the manifestation of a sporting culture is the key factor.
According to Matthew, although corporate sponsorship and proper facilities are important in aiding the upward mobility of sports, a sports culture must be bred. He questions whether or not a sporting culture is evident in the country.

“More importantly there must be a shift in the mindset. We have to develop a sporting culture. We play sports but I do not know if we have a sporting culture. The thinking is that a lot of persons play sports as a hobby. You do sports when you are finish doing everything else, you do sports maybe to keep fit but do we have a sporting culture nationally where one of the things a child looks forward to doing when they are old enough to run and walk and play and in school is to become a professional athlete? Is that something that is inculcated into our people or is it that we do sports because we play football because its football season or cricket because its cricket season or do, we play football because I want to become a professional footballer?” Matthew asked.

He believes that in order for this mindset to change that all stakeholders- coaches, national sporting associations and the Ministry of Sports itself need to come together.

“As coaches and administrators, we in the national federations in collaboration with the Ministry of Sports have programs in place that say listen we are going to produce the next Cristiano Ronaldo, we are going to produce the next Viv Richards, we are going to produce the next Usain Bolt and so collectively we have a sporting mindset, a sporting culture that leads to the development of these sort of athletes.

“Money is one part of it. You can throw as much money as you want, Qatar is probably the richest country per capita in the world but they don’t have a sporting culture. They build all the sporting facilities so they can host international events like the World Cup but if you don’t have a sporting culture the country itself will not be winning the medals on the international stage. They will be great hosts but you have to have that sporting culture and that is something that we as Antiguans and Barbudans need to accept is required for that level of excellence to be attained.”

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