Thursday, 22 November 2012 02:46
By D Francis
Antigua St. John's - The National Warri Association has big plans to lift the game to another level both nationally and internationally.
Caribarena spoke with the association’s president Alvin Philp and President Trevor Cranston to see what plans they have for what is dubbed ‘a mind sport’.
Philp said with the team just fresh from Switzerland snatching Gold, Silver, Bronze and 4th place at the 8th Annual Swiss International Grandmaster Warri Championships, the Association believes that Antigua & Barbuda should be in a much better place with regard to where this game is concerned.
He said efforts are being made to capitalise on the major benefits that can be derived, and to this end dialogue has begun with officials within the Ministry of Education to see how best they can incorporate the game into the schools, especially as a means of boosting performance in Math. “As you know, passing math or even getting high grades in math has been a big problem for many of our students. It has been proven that people who have grown up playing Warri are more sharp with the skills not only in math, but also people with disabilities who’ve played Warri have benefitted with improvement in their motor skills as well. Ms (Caron) Weston on the math television program has grown up playing Warri and, as you can see, she has mastered the subject.”
Philp said they “are putting the final documents together and other plans in place” so that “from next year, with the help of a sponsor, we are going to introduce Warri in the schools and see how it works, then expand it to other schools especially the secondary level, not only here in Antigua but in Barbuda as well where students are having similar difficulty where math is concerned.”
Warri has been described as the fastest-growing mind sport in the world, and according to Cranston it is time Antigua & Barbuda put its successful international experience to good use while promoting the importance of sports tourism.
The president meanwhile announced that Antigua & Barbuda is making serious plans to host the World Championship Event in November 2013. He said the association used the Switzerland winnings as a launching pad to challenge the ‘big leagues’.
“Actually some of the players from these ‘big’ countries are looking to develop ties with us to teach them how to play the game. So we looking at forming synergies with places like Kazakhstan and creating a union to teach the game. In these big countries … they are very serious about the game and give big prizes like Rolls Royce etc. in some cases, so we are glad we were able to rub shoulders with these people and develop ties with them. I mean we are the best in the world … we have the best players … and we need to be more up to speed with what’s happening internationally if we are to have any impact where Warri is concerned.”
Cranston added, “During our experience in Switzerland the other day I thought of sports tourism in a much deeper way and how much we can expose Antigua & Barbuda and its talents through events like these. We actually used the opportunity while we were there to promote our country; we had local souvenirs and shared with our colleagues to promote the Antigua & Barbuda interests.”
Both men also said they would like to see interest in Warri revived on a national level.
Philp said, “We should be much more advanced than we are with Warri … having the entire population fully into the game … we know there is the taxi stand guys who play their warri and in a few communities and outside village shops and so on, but that widespread ‘Warri fever’ that was evident years ago that everywhere you look you see players over the Warri boards … it’s not happening today … and we’ve been promoting the game and pushing for activities that will bring us back to those days.”
Cranston also said he is hoping that the executive would consider something like a grandmasters competition where all the ‘big-wigs’ across Antigua & Barbuda will meet at a central venue to have a showdown, thus attracting hundreds of spectators.
He also wants to see a Warri board in every hotel across the island with someone equipped with the knowledge to share with the curious tourist or visitor. “Much is not known about the game even among our young people today not even the basics ... There is no sport or game that we are number one in apart from Warri, and we should let the world know why we are number one and lift interest in the game on all levels ...”
The president in the meantime gave kudos to Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer for his interest in seeing that Antigua & Barbuda makes plans to host the world championship, being an ardent supporter and player himself.
The Warri Association said it will soon be embarking on a membership drive.