The one major issue facing the Rowing Association of Barbados (RAB)right now is finding a permanent home, says president Dr Anthony Yarde.
“The boats need to be stored in a space where they can get air. Right now we are storing them in a container and putting back more heat. We need to retrofit the container as a temporary space for the boats.
“Then we don’t have anywhere to put the gear or equipment. So we need to find space close to the beach where we can call home. That again proves to be a challenge,” Yarde told Barbados TODAY.
As the world battle the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Yarde said that rowing which is a costly sport has been struggling but at the same time they have managed to cope.
“We are struggling but we are coping. We haven’t started back training and are doing physical training rather than boat training.
“We have four new boats – two singles and two doubles – stored in a container on the beach. We have them now after a long struggle to obtain those boats through no fault of ours,” Yarde said.
He added: “The whole process of getting registered and then getting the money to clear them and so on. The necessary waiver was a long process. I don’t believe that no federation should have to go through such suffering.
“We have struggled with this thing for years now. And because we took so long in getting them (boats), a lot of persons became disinterested in the whole sport.”
One boat cost as much as US$20, 000 and despite the inability of Barbadian rowers to train properly, Yarde commended those who continue to make Barbados proud.
Just two years ago Barbados competed in places like England at the 2018 Commonwealth Beach Sprints. Yarde said Barbados holds the record for the English-speaking Caribbean in the beach sprints.
As part of RAB’s rebuilding drive, the executive plans to host an online zoom meeting this coming Sunday, January 17th with its members. This is in an effort, Yarde explained, to attract the interest they had before the national shut down.
He also confirmed that RAB is bringing in more boats but is uncertain when exactly they will arrive on the island. In the meantime, he shared that they plan to target students at the tertiary level to participate.
“It took so long to get the ones we had and now we have to convince the international federation that it is not going to be that long of a journey. We have had a lot of challenges because you would appreciate it is not a sport that is widely accepted by the masses. So, you have to contend that the sport is expensive.
“We are going to target students at the University of the West Indies, Barbados Community College and Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute. It is not hard to get scholarships in Canada or the United Kingdom for rowing.
“What we had done in the past is go to the University of the West Indies and had sixty students who were really interested in rowing. Because of the boats again time had lapsed, two, three years and persons found themselves involved in other things. So, our strategy is to work with those we have,” Yarde said.
“We moved from having nearly a hundred people to what we have now because of the many challenges rowing has faced. What we have is a core of people that we will get together now and then. So, we will be building from that foundation and use back the same strategy we have used. Targeting schools,” he added.
The RAB boss also called for the powers that be to invest more in local athletes stating, “We talk about elite sport and elite athletes. What is an elite athlete? We can’t have professional elite athletes. And the money they are spending on professionals who are getting money on the circuit. They need to put some of that same money in local athletes that are at home, not overseas.
“A lot of those guys go and run on the circuit and get pay for running. You go play lawn tennis, you get paid for lawn tennis. You go surfing, you get paid in the competition that you go to.”