‘Local officiating at high level’

Seasoned CARIFTA track referee Andre Procope believes officiating in Barbados is on the right
path despite the logistical difficulties that exist in Barbadian athletics.

Having just completed his seventh Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA) Games as a
track referee at the Kirani James Stadium in Grenada, Procope said the quality of officials in
Barbados was good enough to be a more regular feature at events like these.

“We have a number of very good officials in Barbados,” he began. “I try to share my
experiences with them back home and let them know that we are on the right track. The truth
is many of our officials are as good as the ones you see at CARIFTA or even further

Procope also admitted that the lack of athletics infrastructure currently in Barbados has
impacted the development of more than just the athletes.

He said “It has been difficult recently as an official in Barbados. Some people are discouraged
given the lack of a track (national stadium) and prior to that COVID-19. We are hoping to get
them more enthused and rewarded so that they feel that they can play a role. One area in
which we are trying to get people more enthused about officiating is to rotate them around so
that they are not stuck overseeing the same events every day. Some prefer that to get familiar
but for those that wish, we can give them a wider experience of more events so that they know
they can progress whilst still making a contribution.”

In his position as First Vice President of the Athletics Association of Barbados (AAB), Procope
has reaffirmed that the association will be striving to push the sport locally so that it maintains
its popularity for more than just the peak periods in the first quarter of the year.

Procope explained “We have a public relations team who have been given that mandate (of
increasing the sport’s popularity) so I know they will help push it so that the wider public in
Barbados hears more about track and field. I know that when the Barbados Secondary School
Athletics Championship (BSSAC) is on, everyone is interested and the same for National
Primary Schools Athletics Championships but especially outside of that we want to keep them
to know what’s going on.”

One of the things that would boost interest would be the provision of new infrastructure, most
notably the completion of the new stadium and that is not something beyond the notice of the

“We’ll keep pushing for the track. I know the stadium is a bit further off (unconfirmed reports
suggest that the new stadium will not arrive before 2028) and we will push for that as well. It
is good to have the Usain Bolt Sports Complex back but a lot of clubs don’t usually use it for
training so they are going to have to train on grass and non-ideal surfaces” the First Vice
President said.

Procope concluded “I must stress we aren’t pushing just for a track but for better facilities
across the board because I know the field eventers already feel like they are marginalised. We
need all of those (field eventers) and those are events where we have good athletes coming
through where competitions like CARIFTA we can get good medals. Track is much more

Barbados finished the 51st edition of the CARIFTA Games in thirteenth place with five medals,
their worst medal haul since the 1982 CARIFTA Games which were held in Jamaica. (JC)

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