Minister: Millions allocated to the Family Islands
Guardian Sports Reporter
Published: May 30, 2013
Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Dr. Daniel Johnson said he is pleased that the government intends to allocate millions of dollars to complete sports facilities in the Family Islands.
The construction of multi-purpose sporting facilities in the Family Islands is designed to develop young Bahamian athletes, giving them opportunities to compete in future sporting events on all levels, like their peers who reside in New Providence and Grand Bahama.
Prime Minister Perry Christie officially announced the $10 million investment during his budget communication in the House of Assembly on Wednesday.
He thanked Christie, the government and Cabinet colleagues for giving consent to use sports as a major tool in youth, national and economical development. Minister Johnson believes that this will help curb some of the social ills, as well as push the developmental progress toward Family Islands such as Abaco, Eleuthera, Andros, Cat Island and Exuma.
“We are going to begin this very ambitious program in the summer, first week of July we will begin,” said an enthused Johnson.
“The new allocation for the build out of sports facilities in the Family Islands is $10 million. That does not include Nassau, New Providence is up and running. There are ongoing works to be done at the Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre, but that is in the recurring budget. The new budget allocation is really to get the family of islands up to speed where we know the population sizes hold thousands of young people, who have no access to sports facilities.”
The new sporting facilities will include 400-meter tracks, infields for soccer, baseball and softball diamonds and volleyball courts. Johnson also revealed that areas for the sports academies have been identified.
He said: “In these sports academies there will be performance areas for fitness, flexibility training and swimming facilities. If any particular island has any specific concerns, those will be addressed and facilitated. Abaco is ready to go, we have advanced teams out on that island right now as we speak.
“These teams include a member from my ministry, a member from the Department of Lands and Surveys, from the Ministry of Public Works, Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC), the Water and Sewerage Corporation and of course all of the technical persons needed to make sure that it is properly done, that there are no sink holes and we are not building in flooding areas. Once they do that, then we will meet with the stakeholders on the islands like local government, church groups, school groups and athletic federations. It will be a community effort. We had persons from the communities say to us that this is the place and the time to get it done. We are geared up to mobilize our forces and break ground.”
Even though the attention will be on building up the Family Islands, Johnson noted that several of the facilities in New Providence would be completed by the end of the year. These facilities include the additional tennis courts at the Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association’s (BLTA) National Tennis Centre, the Bahamas Hot Rod Track and the nine-hole golf course at the Baillou Hills Sporting Complex.
The official ground breaking for the new Andre Rodgers stadium will take place at the end of the summer, while work on the Churchill Tener Knowles stadium will get underway at the end of the year. Seven core sports will be in full swing at the Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre when these facilities are fully completed.
“All of this comes full circle because we are going to bring the Bahamas Games back,” said Johnson. “In order to bring those games back, the people will have to have facilities. I envision some of the Bahamas Games going to the other islands instead of everything coming here. We will have round-robins and championships on other islands. We might have the basketball segment in Grand Bahama, softball in Eleuthera and sailing in Morgan’s Bluff, Andros, as opposed to everyone coming to Nassau. It changes the scope of what we do as a country and gives more play to the other island destinations.”
Johnson is expected to make his contribution next month when the budget debate continues.