|Kendal Nottage’s role in sports ministry era|
Guardian Columnist/Sales Executive
Published: Mar 08, 2012
Back in 1977, the late ‘Father of the Nation’, Sir Lynden Pindling put in place the Ministry of Sports. He combined sports with youth and community affairs, and anointed Kendal Nottage as the minister.
It was a historic appointment and he chose the right individual. Nottage was not a popular politician at the time, largely due to the backlash he created for the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) because of the disenchantment with him of the Grand Bahamian voters.
Nottage lost the High Rock seat to Maurice Moore during the 1977 general election and in a sense, his political career was salvaged by his good friend Sir Lynden, with a senate appointment and the high profiling of sports into a “ministry” category for the very first time. His stint as the first sports minister would ultimately serve to bring a good balance to the political negatives that have plagued him.
Nottage was colorful and eager to make the new sports-flavored ministry a meaningful one. He emphasized the sports power image by often proclaiming the national program “Numero Uno”. In the big world picture, the proclamation was a stretch but it excited the sporting family in the country like never before. Immediately, instead of the Bahamian sports picture being marginalized as per usual, the Nottage influence enabled sports to take its rightful place in the social standing of the country.
He had a lot to do with the Bahamian people embracing the CARIFTA Games. Nottage provided high-level platforms for school sports, collegiate sports, regional sports and international sports. This was a time when the civil servants operated by convention. Although, it was always understood that permanent
secretaries were the top individuals of authority in government ministries, the era was such that they worked closely with ministers and found a way to be always on the same page with them.
So it was that Charles “Cap” Smith as the permanent secretary and James Moultrie as the undersecretary worked diligently with Nottage. They helped to form the nucleus that cemented the status of the sports ministry, never to be dropped as community affairs has been from time to time. Nottage was perfect for the role. His natural proactive attitude was good for sports and youth development. His contribution to bringing sports to the forefront of society on a regular basis was immense.
There is still much that needs to be done for sports in this country. I have often lamented in this space the unreasonable approach of politicians. They refuse to elevate sports to the top group of budget allocations. Yet, if not for the quality role played by Nottage as that first minister, the view here is that the national sports program would be much further behind.
Nottage, although, he quickly built up a respectable reputation as sports minister, was at the same time making inroads for the national youth program. I believe that it was the “Youth In Business” month he orchestrated in the early 1980s that evolved into the “October Youth Month” annually.
From a community affairs perspective, Nottage ushered in the care services to senior citizens and young boys and girls at the Persis Rodgers Home for the Aged, the Princess Margaret Hospital, Sandilands Rehabilitation Center and the Ranfurly Home for Children. Without a doubt, Nottage played a vital role in the development process of this nation.
His work as the first sports minister legitimized that ministry. Indeed, the national sports program today is much better off because of one Kendal W. Nottage.
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