The Barbados Squash Association (BSA) has been recognised for its remarkable efforts during the last two years with a Spirit of Resilience Award at the Barbados Olympic Association’s (BOA) annual awards.
The Spirit of Resilience prize comes as fair reward for the BSA, which has not only survived the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but thrived, thanks to a determined effort from the BSA and clear and constant communication with the BOA, National Sports Council, and the Ministries of Health & Wellness and Creative Economy, Culture and Sport.
Despite the impact of the pandemic on the Caribbean island, which has seen high COVID-19 rates, the BSA reacted quickly and implemented a number of measures to protect and grow the game.
In the early stages of the pandemic, in order to keep squash in the public eye, the “Squash Spotlight” strategy was implemented in coordination with local media outlets. This involved a concerted effort to better publicise the achievements of those connected to squash in Barbados, and led to over 40 articles published about Barbados’ squash players.
The feedback received by the BSA was overwhelmingly positive and allowed the Association to engage with a greater number of prospective squash players, which led to virtual squash training and coaching sessions being implemented by the BSA with the assistance of the BOA and other sporting organisations.
In further defiance of the pandemic, in November 2020 the BSA’s Junior Squash Development Programme was successfully restarted, strengthening the future of squash in Barbados.
That same month, the BSA hosted the Senior and Masters Nationals with the support of the BOA. The tournament was a complete success, with strict safety protocols – including the mandatory use of masks or visors for all participants, ventilated courts, firm controls on numbers, regulated social distancing and hand-sanitising stations – ensuring the tournament combined a competitive and fun atmosphere with a safe setting.
In 2021, the BSA commenced training for the National Squad Athletes to prepare for upcoming regional and international tournaments. An intense training programme led by Level 4 International Coach Wael El Batran – and with the financial support of the BOA and the National Sports Council – has given the opportunity to 40 athletes to be involved in the programme.
While the year ended on a note of disappointment, with the Junior Caribbean Area Squash Championships – scheduled to be played in Barbados in December 2021 – cancelled due to the pandemic’s impact on a number of potential participants, there was a silver lining for the BSA, with the impressive groundwork laid by the BSA setting the Association up to host future tournaments.
Receiving the award on behalf of the BSA, Immediate Past President Dr. Kim Jebodhsingh said: “My deepest appreciation goes to the BOA for nominating the BSA and we shall forever be grateful for the recognition we’ve received.
“The pandemic has been a challenge, but despite squash being a smaller, indoor sport, and a less mainstream sport, we have worked tremendously hard to become an example of how sport during the pandemic can evolve and conform to the new norm.
“We hope that our safety measures can be used by other sporting organisations and for recreational sport so that we can be part of the movement to get back to a happy, healthy Barbados for all.”
She later added: “The BSA is busy planning our 2022 schedule and we hope to build a state of the art facility where we can host national and international squash tournaments. We believe that if we continue to work with the authorities to improve the present protocols and develop new ones; sports can and should be played with limited risks and contribute to maintaining the mental and physical health of our children and adults.”
Speaking after the ceremony, newly elected BSA President Norman Rice said: “My congratulations to my colleagues in the Barbados Squash Association for being selected as the recipient of this prestigious and well-deserved award.
“COVID-19 has caused tremendous disruption to sport all around the world and it is a great testament to the work of Kim and the BSA that squash in Barbados has continued to thrive during these unprecedented times.
“The work done by the BSA during the pandemic has left squash in Barbados in a strong position to reach new heights and I look forward to doing all I can to help us achieve this.”
World Squash President Zena Wooldridge added: “Congratulations to the Barbados Squash Association for this award from their Olympic Association. It’s fabulous to see the work of the BSA and the Barbados squash community recognised in this way. The pandemic has been particularly challenging to most indoor sports across the world, and it is impressive and inspiring that one of our smaller squash nations should be such an exemplar in ensuring the sport thrives despite the difficult circumstances. Our thanks to all those who have contributed to this award.”