|Maynard pleased with term as minister|
Guardian Sports Reporter
Published: Apr 26, 2012
As Bahamian athletes have made their mark in sports, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Charles Maynard said that over the last five years he has grown along with each and every athlete.
Despite the many challenges he was faced with, Maynard believes that sports in the country has improved and will continue to skyrocket as long as the dedication from athletes, coaches and administrators is there. In December 2009, Maynard took full responsibility in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, after being the minister of state under Desmond Bannister.
Over the years, Maynard watched Bahamian athletes ink their names into the history books, locally, regionally and internationally. However, it is the completion of the state-of-the-art Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium that sits high on his list of accomplishments, while having responsibility for sports in the country.
“The biggest accomplishment is most definitely the completion of the national stadium,” he said. “My ministry was very actively involved with the process, driving and making sure that all of the things that the Chinese needed were provided for them, and making sure that the planning process for the master plan and the execution of that contract was carried out. That took a lot of time and energy, and of course, culminated with the grand opening in February. That was one of our most outstanding achievements.”
The national stadium is a gift to The Bahamas from the People’s Republic of China. The estimated cost for the 15,000-seat facility is $30 million. It is the focal point of the upgrade to the Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre. The stadium, which will be the home of the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) and the Bahamas Football Association (BFA), was officially opened on February 25, 2012.
The construction of the stadium resulted in the demolition of several other playing fields like the Churchill Tener Knowles Softball Stadium and the Andre Rodgers Baseball Diamond. The site of the Bahamas Hot Rod Association (BHRA) track also had to be relocated to another side of the Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre. The displacement, as well as budget cuts to annual stipends didn’t sit well with sporting body presidents, and were marked as challenges by Maynard.
He said: “In regard to federations, I took over at a time when the government had a lot of cuts and tightening measures. We were still able to work hand-and-hand with the federations and make sure that they fulfilled their mandates. We met with them and discussed various strategies, some of them which you have seen played out in terms of some of the successes that we have seen in our athletes in the various disciplines. That is something that I am very proud about.
“We were able to establish the Bahamas Anti-Doping Commission. They have hit the ground running. We are now officially under the World Anti-Doping Agency and in compliance with all the rules. That helps us to move forward, in terms of our athletes and how people receive them around the world, and of course our ability to host major events in this country.
“Another achievement is the establishment of the National Sports Authority. This is in place to change the way that we do things in sports management, sport promotion and the maintenence of our premier facilities. Again it makes me proud that I worked with the legislation from draft day straight up to introduction and the passing of the bill in the House of Assembly. We were able to get the National Sports Policy adapted, finally, after I think almost 15 years of back and forth with stakeholders in the sport. We finally reached to a point where we can officially operate as a National Sports Policy which set goals and structures for how federations, associations, athletes, the government and all other stakeholders relate to each other.”
In promoting The Bahamas through sports, the hosting of regional and international meets and championships were key focus areas for Maynard, but before The Bahamas was able to do so, the competition venues had to be up to standard, and in some cases, certified by international governing bodies. The most recent regional event held in the country was the CARIFTA Swimming Championships.
The Bahamas played host to 18 countries from around the Caribbean at the Betty Kelly Kenning National Aquatics Centre. Months prior to the championships, the water heater and several other problems prevented local swimmers from accessing the pool. It was revealed that almost a million dollars was spent on repairs and restoration to ensure that the swimming championships were held and were a success.
In 2011, when the Bahamas Basketball Federation (BBF) hosted the Caribbean Basketball Confederation (CBC) Championships, extensive repairs were done to the Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium. Also during his tenure, minor work was done to the Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association’s National Tennis Centre and an upgrade was done to the track and field facility in Freeport, Grand Bahama.
Minister Maynard said he has seen tremendous growth in sports in the country and it has sparked a renaissance. He stated that more success will come.