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Johnson settling in as minister of sports

Sports tourism will be explored further under Johnson’s watch
  • Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Dr. Daniel Johnson. Edward Russell III / TNG

KELSIE JOHNSON
Guardian Sports Reporter
kelsie@nasguard.com

Published: May 19, 2012

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New Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Dr. Daniel Johnson is hitting the ground running.

Johnson used his first week in office to familiarize himself with several policies and projects that were set in place by the former minister Charles Maynard. He officially met with all the members of his staff yesterday to map out a way forward for the three departments under his watch.

Johnson said: “In the sports arena this is going to be a great year. We are going to the Olympics in eight weeks. We think we will medal at that. Our expectations are quite high. This year we are leaning on the men’s team for a change. So the young men are going to come to the forefront and produce what I think [will be] one of the greatest results ever in Bahamian sports history.

“Next year we are looking at the CARIFTA Games and the year after, we have the World Track and Field Championships coming to The Bahamas. So we have three years of premier events in the sporting arena. Of course we still have sailing, boxing, cycling and tennis. We have some great tennis events coming. We have another Bahamian who has entered the world tennis scene. We have the swimmers who are doing very well.”

Johnson believes that there is a broad range of things that will come together under sports, but there is a need to marshall and create a link to youth activities.

Bridging the gap is going to be a challenge, but he is up to the task. The first thing Johnson wants to do is build green spaces and implement programs to encourage persons. He said: “You don’t have to be an elite athlete to enjoy games. You don’t have to be an elite athlete to go out and have fun.”

Bringing the various sporting disciplines to the people is another way Johnson will try to build up community programs and feeder systems. He will start with the Junior Baseball League of Nassau (JBLN), bringing the sport to Carmichael, in the Flamingo Gardens area. That program will be started this summer.

“We know we have about 400 young men and women who want to play baseball and softball,” said Johnson. “That is going to happen. We are in the process of now going to build a new baseball stadium. We have to finish off the grounds around this present stadium. We have a master plan for facilities which is going to be very exciting. That is going to, once again, create jobs, reduce crime and foster youth employment and education. My ministry is going to take all of the resources we have to enhance that result. Beyond that, we have to do an inventory of the assets that we have and then we would proceed in finishing off the work.”

Johnson would like to explore the sports tourism aspect further, noting that is why the master plan for this sports complex was designed. He said this department can bring hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.

It is not a secret that all the plans the new minister has will require more funding. He does foresee a ‘slight’ increase in the budget. If there is going be an increase in budget, Johnson knows that it will not come until the next cycle. He said: “This is not our budget cycle, so we are going to make some tweaks to it, but the next budget cycle you will really see our plan blossom.”

Johnson is prepared to work with what he calls ‘a great staff’ who is very substantive. As a result, he expects that all the goals they set out to do will be accomplished with the resources that they have.

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