Groups Unite To Bring Back Sports On Barbuda

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Soon, the children and youth of Barbuda will be able to enjoy playing basketball
and tennis again, as three partners collaborate to build back the island’s public courts.

Through a donation from the Australian High Commission to the Antigua and Barbuda Red Cross, the Barbuda Council and locally-based NGO The Be Foundation will partner with the Red Cross to restore Barbuda’s basketball and tennis courts with high-tech designs focused on hurricane resiliency.

When Hurricane Irma hit the island of Barbuda in September 2017, it profoundly impacted the island’s children and youth, damaging Barbuda’s primary and secondary schools, while leaving the spaces where they most often found enjoyment ruined beyond use. While the basketball court, in particular, was a site for children and youth to congregate for games and tournaments throughout the year, since the storm, this court and the adjacent tennis court have been rendered inoperable.

“The absence of proper facilities to play sports has impacted the children of Barbuda tremendously”, noted Chair of Sports and Youth for the Barbuda Council, Ms. Sharima Deazle-Myers. “The children have shown tremendous resolve in the face of Hurricane Irma, and the time it has taken since the hurricane to restore the island to full functioning.

We are elated to partner with the Red Cross and The Be Foundation to see these facilities restored, especially in a manner that can help to ensure a long disruption to children’s physical activity does not happen again, if we are faced by another serious
storm.”

Through an extensive contractor selection process spearheaded by the Red Cross, the partners will utilize the services of Caribbean Courts, based in Miami Florida, to erect state-of-the-art nets and court floors that can be disassembled and packed in secure facilities upon word a hurricane or other major storm draws near.

President of the Antigua and Barbuda Red Cross, Michael Joseph explained, “It was
important for us to not only help restore the courts in Barbuda, but to do so in a manner that takes advantage of the latest technological innovations available to countries facing natural disasters.

This initiative provides an opportunity to bring these technologies to Barbuda, while working with partners on the ground that will ensure persons are properly trained in how to manage the courts, while ensuring the children and youth take full advantage of this space again.”
The Be Foundation will lead the training for Barbuda Council workers managing the facility, and coordinate youth-focused activities to relaunch these spaces. “We are acutely aware of how important sports are to the youth of Barbuda, and that Barbudans are making their mark around the country and the world, after getting their start on these very courts”, noted The Be Foundation Trustee, Sean Charles.

“We can proudly say we have Barbudans at the highest level of professional and amateur
sports, with a player in the NBA, others at the collegiate level in the USA, and a young female tennis player making waves across the Caribbean. We want to ensure that all Barbudan children with similar interests are afforded the opportunity to see their talents flourish right here at home.”

The partners note however, additional support is needed to completely revitalize the sporting complex, as the lights to the courts and the crowd seating were damaged significantly by Irma. Speaking on the plans to fully restore this space, which houses the only basketball and tennis courts on the island, Deazle-Myers noted, “We would love to see players coming from Antigua and other islands to engage in activities on these special courts.

This requires that we also build proper change and storage facilities
that athletes can use before and after games.” As The Be Foundation leads the partners’ efforts to garner additional support, Charles appealed to local and international donors with a passion for youth development and sports to join in on this initiative. “There is no better investment than in the future generation.

These children have endured more than most of us can possibly imagine, and it is time for
us to come together and show our commitment to their growth and to their happiness”.
The Red Cross, Barbuda Council and The Be Foundation expect the work to be completed by mid-July 2019, and are commencing plans to invite donors and other supporters to Barbuda for a grand reopening. Joseph stated, “We expect to see these courts fully utilized before the children and youth resume school in September, and will continue to work together to ensure their sustained and successful use.”

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