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Sports agreement expected to open doors for Bahamians

Cuba’s National School of Gymnastics, a prime model for The Bahamas

Published: Oct 10, 2013

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The complex where the National School of Gymnastics in Cuba sits is a prime model for The Bahamas. The school was one of many facilities toured by Dr. Daniel Johnson, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, during an official visit to Cuba recently.

The signing of an agreement in sports cooperation was the primary item on the agenda of the Bahamian delegation in Cuba, but part and parcel of the venture were interactions with officials, instructors and students at a variety of the institutions that make up the National Sports Academy in that country.

To a great degree, the National School of Gymnastics represented a prototype of the Cuban sports/education philosophy. Director Nilde Molina Secada beamed with pride as he pointed out the many features of the school on the architect’s model in the main lobby of the institution.

He had every reason to be thrilled. He was showing off a detailed sports development/education centre that would be the envy of countries anywhere in the world. The complex houses dormitories for male and females, a training area for gymnasts, an international auditorium for competition, a medical centre, a huge cafeteria, recreational facilities for volleyball, basketball (options of diversification for the student athletes), classrooms, and also registration and security sectors.

“This is so comprehensive. If we had just a portion of this, our gymnastics program could really take off. It’s for this reason this trip makes so much sense. To be able to see first-hand, these superb facilities that the Cubans have been benefitting from, is special for us, and, you know, this was here all along, for decades, waiting for us to seize the moment and make the connection in order to assist with our development,” said Johnson.

Molina Secada, through interpreter and international affairs principal specialist Ileana Alfonse Valdes, welcomed the minister and his party that included Acting Permanent Secretary Calvin Balfour, National Sports Director Tim Munnings, Director of Sports in the Ministry of Education Evon Wisdom, National Sports Academy Committee Chairman D’Arcy Rahming and National Sports Academy Committee Member Fred Sturrup.

The school director expressed satisfaction that a relationship has been developed between the two countries, and extended his service and that of his colleagues in providing expertise and guidance. Johnson noted the extensive overall program at the gymnastics school.

“They offer all a child would need. There is the educational aspect from primary to the high school level. The daily schedule of eight hours or so provides the proper foundation for their development. We can learn a lot from what our Caribbean sister does,” said Johnson.

While at the complex, Johnson and his team were escorted to several classrooms where the minister interacted with teachers and students.

“They are all comfortable in their environment. It’s a regimented routine but not an uncomfortable one. Their way is worth emulating,” Johnson said.

A major part of the program is the competitive schedule. Molina Secada spoke fondly of the performances of the young students when they enter competitions throughout the provinces of Cuba.

The Gymnastics Federation of The Bahamas is presently trying to make new inroads in the sport, with a big concentration on young competitors. The Bahamas now has an agreement of sports cooperation with Cuba and Johnson has urged local organizations to take advantage of the opportunity to benefit from the arrangement.

Applications are to be made to the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, through the permanent secretary’s office.

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

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