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The Barbados Olympic Association Inc. (BOA) recently hosted three U.S. Embassy representatives at its Headquarters in Wildey. It was the second time within two weeks that international dignitaries paid courtesy visits to the BOA to discuss the improvement of Barbados’ sporting infrastructure.
Public Affairs Officer James Rodriguez, Deputy Public Affairs Officer Jeff Barrus, and Cultural Affairs Assistant Sophia Lewis represented the U.S. Embassy. They met with the BOA’s President Steve Stoute, Secretary General Erskine Simmons, Assistant Secretary General Cameron Burke, and Manager of Olympic Operations Glyne Clarke to explore possible areas of collaboration and U.S. support for the BOA.
Initiatives discussed included bringing U.S. Olympians to Barbados to work with local athletes, promotion of Barbadian sports through U.S. media channels, raising the profile of BOA events and Bajan athletes, support with U.S. university sporting scholarships, U.S. visa assistance for Barbadian athletes, various training program options, and the potential for a year-long youth outreach program targeting local ‘at risk’ communities.
The U.S. delegates were interested to hear the local challenges of sporting officials which included limited coaching options, funding, local partnerships, and depleting sporting facilities on the island. Public Affairs Officer James Rodriguez stressed his department would assist the BOA in any way possible. “We are here to help the BOA. It is very encouraging to see such a strong sporting culture in Barbados, and if there is any way the U.S. Embassy can assist to facilitate improving local sports here, we are more than happy to do our part,” he said.
President Steve Stoute said the BOA was extremely receptive to the potential partnerships discussed and looked forward to further building the calibre of sports in Barbados through the assistance of the U.S. Embassy. “This has been a very productive meeting. The BOA is excited to see where this strengthened relationship with the U.S. Embassy and their cultural department may take us. We are committed to driving our sports and athletes to the very top of their game, and a more established alliance with various foreign offices around the world will only help us to achieve this vision,” he said.
The U.S. representatives also toured the Olympic Museum to get a glimpse into Barbados’ Olympic history. Like the Japanese Ambassador a week earlier, Rodriguez was particularly impressed by the Museum, especially the Champion’s Room containing a pin collection, displays, and Olympic mascots. “These displays are very nice; wonderful,” he said. As a welcoming gift, President Stoute presented each representative with a BOA tie.
In recent times, the BOA has hosted the Japanese Ambassador, Chinese Ambassador, Brazilian Ambassador, British High Commissioner, Canadian High Commissioner, and Australian High Commissioner in a bid to strengthen ties with those respective embassies here in Barbados.