The Barbados Football Association (BFA) last week showed its support for diversity in football by donating goal bars, nets, and protective barriers to a regional blind and visually impaired football workshop hosted by the National United Society of the Blind (NUSB) in partnership with the Blind Football Committee of Barbados.
In addition to equipment, the BFA sent three representatives – Kent Hall (Head of Coaching Education), Fitzgerald Carter (Talent Development Scheme), and Tricia Forde (Referee) – to the Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology to attend the three-day workshop as part of a collective knowledge-building exercise and to assist in generating awareness about blind and visually impaired football.
The workshop, supported by the Paralympic Association of Barbados, various national disability organisations, and the International Blind Sports Federation, was attended by a diverse group of disability sports stakeholders from Jamaica, Guyana, St. Vincent, Grenada, and Barbados, with world-class international blind sports facilitators delivering both classroom theory sessions as well as hands-on practical activities. The Minister of Youth, Sports, and Community Empowerment Charles Griffith was in attendance and delivered the feature address.
Newly-appointed BFA Technical Director Emmerson Boyce also visited the workshop to gain further insight into the developmental initiative. “The BFA is really pleased to be able to lend a hand in whatever way we can to assist to develop diversity in football,” he said. “It’s fantastic to see participants from all over the region coming together and bringing awareness to the unique sporting needs of the blind and visually impaired, and I personally am very much looking forward to seeing this aspect of the game grow exponentially over the years to come.”
BFA Head of Coaching Education Kent Hall echoed these sentiments, and said the workshop was an invaluable experience.
“I went into the workshop curious and just generally wanting to be supportive,” he said. “But, I came out of it feeling not only more knowledgeable about this particular niche of the sport, but also with a greater understanding of people and communication. It was really inspiring and this experience will certainly change the way I coach. We thank the National United Society of the Blind Barbados for welcoming us to be part of such a wonderful learning opportunity.”
Chairperson of the NUSB Sports Committee Pedro Belgrave said he was thrilled with the turn out of participants and thanked the BFA for their donation and support in helping to generate much-needed awareness. “This workshop is an important step in developing not only blind and visually impaired football, but also in our mission to bring more sports to the Caribbean for people with disabilities in general,” he said. “I want us to be able to shine in all areas and to reach the full potential of what is possible – it is my genuine wish that we can send a Barbados football team to the next Paralympic Games in Paris in 2024. We thank all involved this week for their support and in helping to get the wheels in motion towards realising that goal.”
BFA President Randy Harris said providing assistance to workshops of this nature emphasizes the Association’s firm commitment to playing a vital role in developing the game at all levels in Barbados.
“The BFA’s main focus is always going to be guiding the development of football, and this of course includes areas like this that may sit on the peripheries of day-to-day operations,” he said. “We are intentionally continuing to explore new landscapes for football development, and we thank the National United Society of the Blind Barbados for extending the invitation to us to participate and to continue to be a part of the wider conversation for the progression of sport in Barbados.”