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Sports minister Johnson begins focus on the islands

Sports Scope

Published: Jun 04, 2013

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The concentration on sports in the Family Islands has begun. This past weekend, Dr. Daniel Johnson, the Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, was in Grand Bahama and he disclosed at a function, that for the next several months, he intends to be a steady presence in the Family Islands.

While in Grand Bahama, the minister discussed the government’s and his ministry’s strategy going forward, with sports leaders, inclusive of Gladstone ‘Moon’ McPhee who is the Deputy Director of Sports, with specific jurisdiction over the northern region. In a side chat after he had given an intensive pep talk to the boys and girls attending the weekly basketball clinic that is a part of the HOYTES National Program, Minister Johnson said, “over the next few months I will be spending a lot of time in the Family Islands.”

“This is how it must be. We have this announced concentration on the Family Islands. I have to now go into all of the areas to see just whom we should work with in implementing our plans. In particular, the deserving people in the Family Islands will see know how serious we are about improving the lot for those who are involved with sports,” said the minister.

Johnson was joined at the HOYTES event by Acting Permanent Secretary Calvin Balfour who impressed upon the young basketball players the importance of recognizing the opportunity at hand for their development. He drew reference to generations of young HOYTES players before them who had gone on to meaningful lives inside basketball and outside.

The HOYTES (Helping Our Youth Through Education and Sports) program is considered one of the prototype sporting structures the government (through the ministry) will work with under the umbrella of the National Sports Academy.

“These are the programs we can build nationally on. It’s now just about putting in place the means to connect to these development bodies with the understanding that the full responsibility for attaining the national objective will be the government,” Johnson added.

Identifying programs like HOYTES or those on a smaller scale in the Family Islands is one of the reasons for the expanded schedule Minister Johnson now has for the country outside of New Providence. Another example of what he and his teams will be searching for is the venture of Coach Anthony Williams and his wife in Moore’s Island, Abaco. The pair operates a mini academy, housing, feeding and training youngsters from the community, sometimes in double figures.

In the very near future, perhaps, during his presentation on the national budget in the House of Assembly, the minister is expected to disclose the full details of the National Sports Academy and how it will function with small partners like Coach Williams and his program in Moore’s Island. This massive undertaking of the government is just what the doctor ordered for ailing sports programs in the Family Islands. Coach Williams has produced world caliber junior athletes who have stormed into New Providence and defied the odds to become champions.

Most recently, the Moore’s Island boys 1,600 meters (m) relay team looked sensational in winning the event at the Chris Brown Bahamas Invitational. They have also done quite well when competing in the United States against their American peers and those from other countries, such as Jamaica. The signs are good.

Indeed, I do believe the government is on a good wicket this time.

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

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