The game of lacrosse has only been in the country of Barbados for just over a year and upward progress has already been made. Just last week, Barbados was admitted to World Lacrosse, along with Lithuania.
“The ultimate goal is to make Barbados the Long Island or Maryland of the Caribbean,” Barbados Lacrosse founder Jimi Payne exclaimed during an interview last week.
A Barbados native, Payne first saw the sport when he moved from Jamaica to Annapolis, Md., in high school. Being taught the game fellow church-goer Newton Gentry IV, who ended up playing at Virginia, Payne picked up the game and played at St. Mary (Md.) in the MIAA, known as the best lacrosse conference in the country.
“I was a kid who moved to Annapolis and went to St. Mary’s, so of course I had find out about the game,” Payne chuckled
Bringing lacrosse to his home country of Barbados is a dream that Payne developed while playing in high school.”I think this game is perfect for the Caribbean because it has things that are very similar to soccer [football] and it also helps bring more diversity…It’s something that I locked in my head as a wild dream as a teenager,” Payne said.
After being pushed and motivated to realize his dream of moving back to Barbados and bringing lacrosse to the island, Payne finally made the move in 2018 after linking up with a friend-of-a-friend who had a similar idea that would change the culture of sports in Barbados.
“I linked up with a man named Rohan Ford and he had the idea of opening up a sports bar a…Our goals were aligned in changing the sports culture in Barbados and how sports can benefit the country financially and culturally,” Payne said. “We are now business partners and he (Rohan) is also on the board of Barbados Lacrosse, as well.”
Payne held a two-week summer lacrosse camp in the summer of 2018 and was then able to hold after school practice sessions at Queens College where he was able to coach kids the game and is currently holding sessions two days a week.
While Payne knows the boy’s game best he has also been spreading the girl’s game in Barbados, as well, and got some help in that department when Howard head women’s coach Karli Brentlinger came down and held a weekend camp in December of 2018. “I truly know from an objective coaching standpoint I know nothing of girls lacrosse, especially at the skill level I want my girls to get…It was awesome to have Coach Brentlinger and some of the Howard players come down and help better our girls’ program,” said Payne
In 2019 Payne has continued to hold practice sessions multiple times a week at Harrison College and he also held another summer camp this past summer. He has also been able to gather up some lacrosse players from across the globe with Bajan roots that want to help grow the game on the island and be a part of the national team.
Off the field, Payne has been busy getting Barbados Lacrosse registered as a non-profit and getting admittance to World Lacrosse. Both of which happened within just days of each other last week.
“I can now go to our sports council and sports ministry and I am no longer just Jimi Payne who has a pipeline dream of spreading this game on the island. I now have kids that I have been coaching for a year and I have been accepted to World Lacrosse and the Pan-America Lacrosse Association, and I have my non-profit set up, as well,” Payne said.
Payne says the next steps for Barbados lacrosse in 2020 include having bigger camps and having experienced players come down to the island to help coach. Additionally, Payne wants to get a high school league going and start the process of creating a national team, which National lacrosse Hall of Famer and Payne’s high school coach Michael Burnett has already agreed to coach.