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Sands: We had a successful year

Despite controversy, the BAAA sent off five teams this year
  • BAAA President Mike Sands said that despite the turmoil encountered this year, the BAAA was still able to send off five teams to international competitions, and still experienced a great deal of success.

SHELDON LONGLEY
Guardian Sports Editor
slongley@nasguard.com

Published: Aug 28, 2013

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Despite not having an executive meeting in about three months, and on ongoing court battle that threatens to cripple the work of the BAAA, head of that organization Mike Sands still maintains that they had a pretty successful year and that the immediate future looks bright for The Bahamas in track and field.

The Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations’ (BAAA), the leading body for athletics in the country, is currently embroiled in a major controversy surrounding the removal of office of three of its executive members, through a purported vote of no confidence. Those executives, Harrison Petty, Iram Lewis and Carl Oliver, have since applied for judicial review from the Supreme Court of The Bahamas, regarding the matter. BAAA President Sands said that they could argue all they want about the constitutionality or the legitimacy of what transpired, but the facts are the facts. He said that they were still able to function as a body, and still experienced a great deal of success.

“Well, the work of the BAAA must go on,” said Sands. “I have been accused of doing things without consultation, and whereas things have been done without everyone who think they should be consulted being notified, I accept that. At the end of the day, I have to accept the responsibility to maintain some level of operation and continuity for the organization. If that causes a lack of confidence in me, then so be it, but the work of the association has continued from May 1 to the present. We sent away all five teams this year. Even with the Junior Pan Ams, there were discussions about not taking a team with the finances being very difficult to come by, but it was always my intention, and the intention of some executive members as well, that there would be some representation for The Bahamas at the Junior Pan Ams. We got caught up in the planning and the financing for the world championships, but there had to be some representation at the Junior Pan Ams. Some countries were reducing their teams significantly, and others weren’t even sending a team. For us, out of all the athletes who had qualified, and were contacted about whether or not they intended to go, about four persons indicated their willingness to go, so that explains the small number of our athletes but we still had to go and send a team.”

As far as the existing friction in the organization is concerned, Sands said that they have to respect the view of the members which he said was evident after the May 1 meeting which resulted in the votes of no confidence against Petty, Lewis and Oliver. He termed that meeting as an “extra-ordinary and duly constituted” one, and whereas they would love to sit down with the other party and come to a compromise, certain conditions have to be met.

“The fact of the matter is that the members took a decision and voted against certain members. The other party made a decision to take the matter to the court. I have spoken to persons from the other side, with a view of how we could bring this to a closure, but it is difficult for me and you to sit at a table when you have me in court,” said Sands.

“The attorney from our side has asked to have the matter withdrawn, and let us find mediation, and the attorney from their side has also made recommendation for mediation. What we’re saying is that we’re not averse to that, but there has to be some conditions. You can’t just walk in a room and say, ‘let’s talk’. There has to be some pre-conditions, even if it means that the mediation will be binding, but you can’t have it on one hand, and then hold me hostage on the other hand too.

“Every time we attempt to have an executive meeting, the other party shows up and I cannot allow it because the membership has taken the position that they are no longer executives. We would love to have a meeting where we could move forward, but there has to be some terms and conditions. There is no objection to sitting down and discussing what has been recommended by the attorneys of both sides, but there has to be some conditions.”

Despite the turmoil, including an obvious lack of communication, the BAAA was still able to send off five national teams to international competitions this year - an eight-member team to the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Age Group Championships in Willemstad, Curacao; a 19-member squad to the World Youth Championships in Donetsk, Ukraine; a 24-member team to the Sr. CAC Championships in Morelia, Mexico; a 25-member squad to the World Outdoor Championships in Moscow, Russia; and just recently, a four-member team to the Jr. Pan American Championships in Medellin, Colombia.

The trip for the International Association of Athletic Federations’ (IAAF) World Championships alone, reportedly ran the BAAA into about $120,000, and then on the heels of that, they still had to find funds for the four-member Jr. Pan Am team. According to Sands, yes they were strapped for cash, but the main reason that team was significantly reduced was because it was near the end of the season and a number of athletes had minor injuries, or had already shut their seasons down.

“There will always be bumps in the road, but we have to forge ahead. I believe that we had a very successful year because we completed all of our goals and objectives, and allowed our teams to travel,” said Sands. “The main thing for us right now is just moving forward as an organization. Next year, we have the world relays coming to The Bahamas, and we have to focus our attention on that.”

Team Manager of the Bahamian team that travelled to Moscow, Ralph McKinney, said that they have to thank Diamonds International, Coca-Cola and the Zonta Club of Nassau, for coming on board at the last minute in helping them to get a team to the world championships.

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