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Sports minister faces huge challenges - Part 1

  • Dr. Daniel Johnson.

FRED STURRUP
Guardian Columnist/Sales Executive

Published: May 22, 2012

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The Nassau Guardian’s sports lead of Saturday, May 19, provided readers with objectives announced by Dr. Daniel Johnson, that will certainly shape his tenure as the government’s chief of sports, one way or the other.

He is the new minister of youth, sports and culture. Youth and culture are significant arms of the ministry, but sports happens to be the giant in the room for Minister Johnson. More so than any other sports minister, he is up against it.

When the nation’s father, Sir Lynden Pindling, anointed the sports family in the country with its own ministry back in 1977, ‘expectations’ were not so great. Within the national sports framework, we were all gratified that Sir Lynden had placed such emphasis on sports.

His decision was innovative. It was an advanced way of thinking. What we have now is a full-blown sports industry. Perhaps he was looking down the road afar. We have seen the blossoming of sports far beyond what Kendal Nottage met when he became the country’s first minister. Subsequent central administrations under Sir Lynden, from 1977 all the way to 1992, fostered the growth of sports.

With the government’s attention to sports intensified, our athletes thrived and The Bahamas became a haven for recruiters who represented foreign universities and colleges. Academic scholarships through sports became commonplace as the natural athletic talents in various disciplines got the world’s attention.

Pindling’s governments and those of Hubert Ingraham and Perry Christie continued the sports focus, by providing many facilities (in New Providence in particular) and affording the general environment for the federations, associations, appointed commissions and boards to become increasingly more vibrant.

We are now at the beginning of Dr. Johnson’s stint in the important seat of sports minister. He met a template in place, complete with a state-of-the-art national stadium that features soccer and athletics.

The stadium itself is a collective set of high hurdles Minister Johnson must clear, sooner than later, if he is to be seen as someone fit for the role. The surrounding area, of which the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium is the anchor project, has a large amount of infrastructural work that was left unfinished by the departed central administration. The structure, left in the hands of Bahamian authorities from June of last year, by the People’s Republic of China administrative/work force, needs to be looked over carefully. The necessary structural accommodations that will bring the stadium up to world certified standards, must be done.

Only when the soccer field is certified by the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), and the areas for athletics get the official stamp of the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF), will regional and international events in those disciplines be cleared for the stadium.

While there were indeed, no “great expectations” in 1977, that is not the case now. The sports minister is expected to put the kind of proactive, capable team together to help him. Dr. Johnson is not wet behind the ears like Charles Maynard was when he came on board. Maynard was a total novice regarding sports when he was given the top sports ministry. Dr. Johnson, on the other hand, has had a profound interest in sports medicine, nutrition and sports technology.

He knows about sports. Now, he has to get the hang of it in sports administration. Is he up to the task? The future holds that answer.

(Read part two of this series in tomorrow’s Nassau Guardian. To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at sturrup1504@gmail.com)

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