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American football expanding locally

NG Columnist/Sales Executive

Published: Jun 17, 2011

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The increasing popularity of flag football, particularly in New Providence and Grand Bahama, is leading to a rather refreshing expansion of the sport in the country. American football has produced some Bahamian-born sports icons. Ed Smith, his son Alex, and Devard Darling have played in the National Football League (NFL).

The Bahamas is one of the members of the International Federation of American Football (IFAF) and the stage is indeed set for an emergence of new grid stars who will go on to play well at the collegiate level, internationally and find niches in the NFL as well.

There is the distinct possibility that in the not too distant future, more Bahamians will move to that ultra American football environment, the NFL. The pieces of the puzzle have to be put in place however.

The arrival of LaLisa Anthony on the Bahamian scene did wonders for the advancement of the game. She got the country entrenched in the IFAF. A national team competed in a regional IFAF round in Panama and the potential is there for gigantic strides.

In Grand Bahama, Stanford Duhaney heads the Bahamas Youth Football organization. Here in New Providence, the program continues and the flag football aspect continues to grow. This is a good time for the game.

Now, those involved in driving the sport must seize the moment.

The IFAF is all over the world now, stretched throughout the continents. The 2011 IFAF Senior World Championship is scheduled for Austria, July 8-16. There should be a focus on one day, a Bahamian national team qualifying for that prestigious event.

Anthony is no longer involved in the Bahamas Youth Football (BYF) program. That load is now on Duhaney. However, Anthony remains the president of the Bahamas American Football Federation (BAFF) that is affiliated with the IFAF.

Accordingly, she is still doing her part to boost national development.

“We are in the process of assessing the participants of the program to quantitatively determine to what degree there has been an impact on positive youth development. This report should be completed by the opening of the 2011 season and will summarize the first four years of the youth program.

“Other than that, there are players who travel to Ohio to train and become exposed to various post-secondary opportunities that include football. Currently we have Kato Fawkes of Grand Bahama here until July. He is doing very well and many of the Division I elite institutions are making inquiries,” said Anthony.

The general idea is to maximize the academic and athletic potentials of young Bahamians who aspire to play American football. Anthony has withstood overbearing controversial circumstances to boost the sport from a base in Grand Bahama.

She succeeded. The game in the country has advanced because of her. With flag football playing such an instrumental part in the growth of the sport, perhaps now is the time for the leaders of American football in the country to get together with the common cause of solidifying a national effort.

This is surely a good moment in time for American football in The Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at frobertsturrup@gmail.com)

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