By RENALDO DORSETT
Tribune Sports Reporter
THE local sporting community continues to react to reports of massive budget cuts to the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Freedom Farm Baseball League Director and former PLP Senator, Greg Burrows, expressed concern at how the recent cuts will affect youth sports development.
A significant reduction in expenditure from last year’s budget of $24,081,380 to around $18,938,187 (a $5,143,194 decrease) has meant that one of the areas that will receive less funding is youth sports development.
“As a member of the sporting community with a focus on youth development, I viewed with dismay slashes in the current budget totalling $5,143194.00 within the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture. This is not the first time the government has made significant budget cuts in this Ministry, adversely affecting our youth and athletes. Specifically, contributions to sports, civic and youth organisations were reduced by $60,000.00 from $300,000 to $240,000.00.”
During his tenure in the Senate, Burrows also served as chairman of the Public Parks and Public Beaches Authority. As a founding member of the FFBL, Burrows has seen it grow into one of the most populated youth sporting organisations in the country which features hundreds of students athletes on an annual basis and its alumni includes several minor league baseball prospects. He questioned what he called the “human cost” of the budget cuts.
“There is an urgent need to do more, not less, for our youth if we are to properly prepare them to confidently and competently receive the baton of leader of this country to continue its sustained growth and development. Essentially, this necessary preparation was one of the principal reasons for the establishment of the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture. The Progressive Liberal Party maintains that sports and culture have the potential to become significant pillars and engines of our economy as major components of our tourism product offerings,” Burrows said. “Our youth and sports development thrust during our last term in office - branded sports in paradise - laid a solid foundation and blueprint for the way forward in building this important industry. The PLP pledges upon assuming office to continue the programme ‘Sports in Paradise.’ Additionally, we pledge to substantially support sporting organisations, our athletes and to prioritise youth and sports development as central, critical and strategic to our future growth and development.”
The Tribune previously reported highlights of portions of the budget that will affect local sports. Subventions to elite athletes will be dropped from $1,346,150 to $1,076,920, but it’s not known how many athletes will be affected going into the preparation for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, which has been postponed until 2021.
In addition, aid to student athletes will be reduced from $142,500 last year to about $110,000, although there is no indication as to who and how many athletes fall into this category.
Further to the list, there is a National Endowment for Sports, pegged at $795,000, reduced from $1,632,000 last year, among others.