By Neto Baptiste
Sporting associations in Antigua and Barbuda must do their part in the country’s efforts to recover financially from the economic downturn brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
This is according to Minister of Sports Daryll Matthew, who revealed that he has been holding discussions with a number of associations as to how they could contribute to the nation’s recovery plans.
“The prime minister [Gaston Browne] has made it clear that every ministry within his government are to put together a post-Covid recovery plan for their sector, and so in keeping with that mandate, I had started discussions with a few of the associations, that I intend to continue, so that I can report to the Cabinet some thoughts that we have on how to ensure that sports plays an even greater part of the economic development of this country,” he said.
Sports in Antigua and Barbuda has been on lockdown since March after the country recorded its first confirmed case of the deadly virus. The government has, however, recently eased restrictions on some sports to include golf and tennis.
According to Matthew, the associations must put themselves in a position to use the resources available to them in positive ways that could generate economic activity.
“There are some sports for which we already have great infrastructure in place, we already have good networks, good relationships and good reputations; but how do we leverage those things to generate additional activities? We have a beautiful stadium, one of the best in the Caribbean where cricket is concerned, so how do we do even more to generate economic activity in Antigua and Barbuda?” he said.
“We have a golf course, we have a race track, we have a football training center and we will see what happens with YASCO and with the Antigua Recreation Grounds, because when the government approves $600,000 in our budget in our ADARP funds to be used to support national associations, that $600,000 has to be viewed as an investment into these entities for which we expect a return,” he added.
Cycling and swimming have also been given the nod, by the government, to resume some form of activities. The ban imposed on major team sports like football, basketball and cricket remains in place.
Cricket, basketball and bodybuilding have both cancelled their domestic season while bodybuilding has cancelled its national championships.