Phase 2 of the development of the Barbados Hockey Centre at Wildey broke ground yesterday, thanks to the partnership with the Barbados Olympic Association Inc. (BOA), the Barbados Hockey Federation and the Barbados Tourism Development Corporation.

President of the BOA, Sandra Osborne, broke the ground for the multi-purpose pavilion, which is set to have changing rooms, showers, storage room, technical operations room, natch areas, penalty areas and an upper level which will have a media deck, an office area and covered seating for 100 people.

Over the next six months, the construction will be done on the eastern end of the Centre.

Osborne, in her welcome address, made note that the full range of the BOA’s work is unknown by many, so she welcomed every opportunity to demonstrate some of the many facets of the BOA.

“Some see us as just funding athletes and fielding teams to multi-sport competitions every couple of years. Although these are important functions, we also play a vital role in funding national federations in a country which lacks serious private sector support of most of our sports. Our mandate to promote Sport in Barbados is multi-faceted, requiring us, among other avenues, to finance the growth, sustainability and proliferation of Sport on the island by leveraging relationships through our international affiliations to access funding that is available for infrastructural development,” she said.

Osborne thanked her predecessor, Steve Stoute, who negotiated with Pan Am Sports the phase one funding. This organisation is again on board as she explained that 66 per cent of the total cost of the Centre across the two phases was contributed by Pan Am Sports and the BOA combined, which amounted to about three-quarters of a million dollars.

Other contributors include the National Sports Council (13% towards the total cost of the Centre through a contribution to phase one), the International Hockey Federation (12% towards the total cost of the Centre for phase one; and the Tourism Development Corporation (TDC), which contributed to both phases, making a total contribution of 9% of the total cost to date. This represents a total investment of $1.124 million in field hockey in Barbados.

President of the Barbados Hockey Federation, Mark St. Hill, thanked all parties involved for their contribution in making the dream of the hockey fraternity come through with the construction of a modern facility that could host international competitions.

“Our new pavilion will not only position us to provide modern facilities for our players, officials and spectators, but will also enhance our ability to stage major games such as our Barbados Hockey Festival – a major contributor to the island’s sports tourism product. With the completion of the Centre, we would also be able to host international competitions and attract more touring teams to the island each year. This is a major development for our beloved sport,” said St. Hill.

Other speakers included Chairman of the TDC, Martin Ince and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth, Sports, and Community Empowerment, Yolande Howard, both of whom endorsed the value of sport to human and social development and the development of Barbados’ tourism product. In addition, Howard called for Barbadians to see sports as a viable career option. She said that sport has not been given the level of support it needed in the past to promote success, but that her ministry is looking at how it can change these states of affairs going forward by developing a sport industry.