Sports program deserves top priority treatment
Published: Aug 06, 2013
There was a time when sports organizations got by without government grants. Sports leaders of the day, 40 years ago and further back, got their programs going and motivated the respective athletes by organizing fund-raising events and soliciting from Corporate Bahamas.
Today, there is a national financial subvention program for four categories of athletes, the above average young development stage boys and girls, the good, the very good and the elite. On top of that, the central administration, through the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, advances annual grants to federations and quasi government sports entities.
It has to be acknowledged that the sports situation now, is much different. The national sports industry has expanded tremendously. The pressure to attain a high status, in kind with world peers, is so much greater. The costs to remain viable are more varied and quite lofty.
Here in this country, the sports item consistently is the one that draws the great abundance of worldwide praise for The Commonwealth of The Bahamas. It is because of this undeniable fact that I continue to call on the politicians, business persons and all others to collectively afford the nation’s sports programs top priority treatment.
Presently, the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) is under the gun financially. It has been a great struggle, dealing with getting Team Bahamas off to the 14th International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) World Outdoor Championships in Moscow, Russia.
The Bahamas Volleyball Federation (BVF) is pressed for funding, needed to send a men’s team to a world-qualifying event. Recently, the Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association (BLTA) had its women’s team travel to qualify for the World Federation Cup top-flight division. On down the list of core sports and also those smaller programs, there are travel schedules to be addressed.
This is most necessary if our sports programs across the board are to be abreast the rest of the region and the world. From the very top of the Government of The Bahamas comes regularly a clear message that the intent is to uplift the overall sports program in the country. Prime Minister Perry Christie is constant with his promise of a sports development program throughout the archipelago.
I think he is quite serious. I don’t know however, whether his call for “urgency” is recognized or appreciated by all around him and those who are best positioned to drive the initiative. Once left to the system, it seems the red tapes always slow down the process. Amazingly, despite the important role of sports as perhaps the most positive element in our society, still the “top priority treatment” is withheld generally.
Prime Minister Christie, in order for the national sports dream (you have in mind) to become a reality, you have to change the mindset of some of those who surround you and equally as important, those within the system who are charged with the responsibility of working with politicians to carry out your directives. That’s the only way it will happen as you wish.
(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at firstname.lastname@example.org)