|Invest in our athletes|
Published: Aug 22, 2012
The historic victory of the Golden Knights over the United States in the men’s 4x400m relay ignited a wave of Bahamian pride. Too often the stagnant state of the economy, the horrendous acts of crime or other dismal outlooks dominate our headlines. It is so refreshing to see the swell of pride in our national athletes; a pride that is too often dormant.
The government has seized the moment to put forth grand ideas for sports centers around The Bahamas. But in all likelihood these are empty promises, particularly given that our new Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium is at the moment a prominent statue of concrete. Since the lavish ceremonial opening last February, the stadium has yet to be certified.
Our stadium, donated so generously by the Chinese, epitomizes our conundrum of talented athletes with poor sporting facilities. The present and past governments have both been tight-lipped on why the stadium has yet to receive the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) certification.
Certification is crucial for not only embracing sports tourism, but also for giving our athletes a stadium that is a worthy showcase of their talents. In retrospect, we wonder just what the former government was thinking by officially opening a stadium that was obviously nowhere near completion.
The peculiarities began when the stadium was constructed and supporting infrastructure, such as roads, parking, and utility installation and alignment, some of which is not even in the immediate vicinity of the stadium, did not commence until the stadium was near completion.
For months the stadium stood with no roads and no parking, with only political will as the driving force to pave just prior to the official opening last February, weeks ahead of the construction schedule. One would have expected that the stadium and supporting infrastructure would be built in tandem; alas, such common sense continues to elude our governing bodies.
When works on the supporting infrastructure did begin, the grounds in the immediate vicinity of the stadium remained hidden from view by temporary fencing and guarded by armed defense force officers. Those fortunate enough, or perhaps unfortunate, to tour the stadium last fall were treated to outright squalor.
Bahamian companies were left to dispose of heaps of debris, spills of unknown substances and demolition of temporary worker housing just to reach the stadium. Sign entrances were misspelled as “tichet” check, man holes needed to be replaced, fire hydrants were in Chinese, and the filth of garbage was astounding. The value of a gift certainly erodes when it requires additional unforeseen expenditure.
Here we are six months after the ceremonial opening with roads and parking nearing completion and still no certification. If the stadium was built to meet occupancy and certification standards, and has already been toured by IAAF and FIFA officials, what is the problem? Based on the above observations, we may have an inkling of an idea.
In the mean time, our athletes continue to excel at the international level and all we have to give them is a stadium capable of holding 15,000 fans to wave and adore them like beauty queens.
The Bahamian people need more transparency on why Thomas A. Robinson, an emblem of pride, stands empty of Bahamians cheering on our athletes in international competition. With such economic turmoil across the world, we need an arena to promote national pride, a past-time to let us forget about the uncertainties of life and to enjoy the spectacular performances of our Bahamian athletes.