Barbados really steps up for Al

The Caribbean Awards Sports Icons is emerging as one of the premier events that honour the Caribbean’s best sports people, past and present and this year the gala night will be held in one of the region’s bastions of sporting excellence, Barbados.

CASI3 will be in the splendid banqueting suite of the Hilton Hotel in Bridgetown on Tuesday 29 November. It’s on in mid-week because it ties in with the island’s 45th independence anniversary on 30 November and also the Pan American Caribbean Boxing Organisation is holding its annual general meeting there. Around 30 people will attend that AGM and go to CASI the following night.

The Caribbean Awards Sports Icons had its inaugural staging in Jamaica in 2008 and the Bahamas the following year.

The London-based founder is Al Hamilton, MBE. He has a 30-year history of putting on sports awards all over the world. A Jamaican, Hamilton is impressed with the response from all involved in Barbados.

“I’ve had very positive meetings with the Barbados Tourism Authority,” he said. “We’re working in conjunction with the Barbados Association of Non Governmental Organisations (BANGO) and its president Roosevelt King who has been very supportive.

“He has put together a steering committee which should make this CASI the most upwardly mobile of the lot. I’m also in talks with the president of the Barbados Olympic Organisation, Steve Stoute, who has promised support.

“The Barbados Tourism Authority both in Bridgetown and London have been very helpful. The Barbados fraternity has really invigorated the spirit of CASI and this is really gratifying.” So far one event planned is a special lunch at the Kensington Oval cricket ground. Jamaica’s great athlete from the Eighties, Grace Jackson, has agreed to become an ambassador for CASI. British journalists Rodney Hinds and Joel Campbell who have formed Global Sports In Colour which packages sports holidays. They are offering deals around this event. Hamilton expects the usual contingent from London to attend.

Hamilton is the founder of the long-running Commonwealth Sports Awards which celebrates its 30th staging in Britain this year. He decided to launch CASI to honour the great achievements of the Caribbean’s brilliant sportsmen and women of the past 70 years.

Recipients have included Usain Bolt, Viv Richards, Clyde Best, Jessica Ennis, Javier Sotomayor, Brigitte Foster-Hylton, Emile Griffith, Hasely Crawford, Herb McKenley, Mike McCallum, Sir Durward Knowles (legendary Bahamian sailor) and Mike Fennell, (president of the Commonwealth Games Federation) for administration.

McCallum, Jimmy Adams and Michael Frater were amongst the big sporting names who attended the inaugural CASI and Emile Griffith attended the Bahamian one where he was feted by his compatriots for overcoming obstacles in the United States to become one of the greatest welterweight and middleweight champions in boxing history.

FIFA vice-president Jack Warner and Aleen Bailey, the Jamaican sprinter, were at the first CASI and at the Bahamian function dignitaries included Mike Fennell, Fred Sturrup, a journalist and also president of the Pan American Caribbean Boxing Organisation, Desmond Bannister who was Bahamas sports minister at the time and Sir Orville Turnquest, the former governor-general and deputy prime minister.

The two stagings of CASI has attracted fans and dignitaries from all over the Caribbean and the English contingent are always supportive.