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Government should sponsor national sports camp

Sports Scope
FRED STURRUP

Published: May 28, 2013

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There can be little doubt in the minds of Bahamians that the national sports program happens to be that bright “positive image” beacon for the country. Even to those not particularly interested or knowledgeable about sports, it must be abundantly clear that this is the area that most compels the world to respect this little country.

It follows then that the present central administration and all others going forward should endeavor to boost the financial allotment for sports. The sports industry is the greatest marketing tool for The Bahamas today. Sun, sand and sea, those three items, are still prominent but, old hat, collectively.

Around the region and the world, indeed, other nations (once in the back of us) push similar marketing tools and have either caught up to us or gone beyond in the tourist trade. The sporting element is another story all together.

It never stops to amaze me, this inability of our political directorate to recognize in their deeds the value of our sports industry. Other than being a huge asset to market The Bahamas, a greater concentration on the sports industry would result in a social change for the better. It’s ironic. We have political leaders today, consistent with the past, who climbed up the back of sports to reach lofty heights in education and overall achievements. Instead though, of appreciating sports as the great contributing aspect of a stable nation, those who made it through sports have operated in a manner that signifies the opposite. It’s mystifying.

Let’s take Dr. Bernard Nottage. He is a prime example. He is under great pressure as the minister with the primary responsibility for national security. Under his leadership, crime remains overbearing. The election campaign promises by his Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and the bold statements of confidence he made earlier on, seem now like mere rhetoric. The words were persuasive enough to help win an election but they are meaningless to scores of families who now mourn the slaying of loved ones.

It’s a repeated scene. It’s gotten to the point whereby one breathes a sigh of relief with the realization that a 24-hour period went by without another murder. Why isn’t Dr. Nottage (who knows quite well the value of sports) on a daily mission to get Prime Minister Perry Christie and cabinet colleagues to see that this time, the national sports industry must be placed in the top funded category along with education, tourism and health care?

Could it be that he is indeed batting on that wicket? If he is, the future will tell for sure. It’s so simple, however.

You empower the sports industry accordingly, and automatically there would be countless wholesome avenues opened up to which our young boys and girls, who are falling through the cracks, can direct their energies. Yes, many who are moving in a criminal direction, would have the option to be guided by quality mentors rather than the crime lords or others who are criminally inclined.

Dr. Nottage was a little boy on East Street, part of the heart of the inner city, Over-The-Hill. He saw what happened to many he knew as a child and beyond when they lost their way. The solution to the social decay in this country is a huge expansion of the national sports program. Prime Minister Christie has floated the National Sports Academy (NSA) concept. I support that but it has to be structured properly to make sense.

For instance, within the academy ought to be the important plank of a national sports camp. A national sports camp would include the athletes with the best potential to become elite performers, in all disciplines. There would be a concentration of training and general preparation for time frame targets. As other Bahamian boys and girls emerge to the accepted status, they would be upgraded to the national camp.

Let’s think of a national camp that focuses on the Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Olympics of 2014. We have some young sailors who are looking like world-beaters in the optimist class. What I have seen in the youngsters, leads me to believe that out of the present mix can come sailors in other classes of the ilk of Sir Durward Knowles (star), Donnie Martinborough (sunfish), etc.

Our volleyball program is on track once again. The success in beach volleyball can easily be transferred to the traditional court game if an efficient national camp is in place to assist the federation. We can go down the line and end with track and field. A focus on Shaunae Miller, Anthonique Strachan, Tynia Gaither, Bianca Stuart, the ‘Golden Knights’ and the great reservoir of Bahamian quarter-milers would be bountiful in Rio, I’m certain.

If the financial allocation for sports from the national budget is a meaningful amount, a ‘national camp’ would easily fit in the plans of the proposed NSA. Hopefully the powers-that-be will ultimately see the light.

(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at sturrup1504@gmail.com)


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