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BOC to honor Sir Arli, 40 women in sports

Former deputy prime minister delighted to be a part of recognition ceremony
  • Cynthia 'Mother' Pratt speaks at the BOC press conference to announce the honoring of Sir Arlington Butler at Government House on Friday, November 1, 2013, and the recognition of 40 women at a special gala luncheon on Saturday, November 9, 2013. AHVI J. CAMPBELL

Guardian Sports Editor

Published: Oct 30, 2013

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Two very important events are forthcoming on the Bahamas Olympic Committee’s (BOC) calendar.

This Friday at 5 p.m., former BOC President Sir Arlington Butler will be recognized in a special ceremony at Government House. Butler, who served as president for 36 years, will receive one of the highest awards from the International Olympic Committee (IOC). He will become the first Bahamian to be awarded the IOC’s Baron Pierre de Coubertin Award, a prestigious service award named after the founder of the modern Olympic Games. In addition to that, he will also become the first Bahamian sporting hero to receive the BOC’s President’s Award.

“The Bahamas Olympic Committee deem it a pleasure to honor past president Sir Arlington Butler for his involvement in sports, in particular the work as president of the Bahamas Olympic Committee for 36 years,” said incumbent president Wellington Miller yesterday. “Sir Arlington’s influence in sports has not just been in The Bahamas, but it has stretched across the region and on the wider international sporting stage, based on the compliments and congratulations we have received for him on this occasion.”

As for the new president’s award, Miller said that he has established it as a means of recognizing special and outstanding contributions to the Olympic Movement of The Bahamas. He added that there is no one more deserving than Sir Arlington Butler as the first recipient.

A total of six regional Olympic committee presidents, and other executives, are expected to be present at Government House on Friday for the special occasion.

“He has given much to this country. He has carried the banner of this country with dignity and pride for many years, and we thank God that he is alive to recognize that he has been remembered for such great work,” said former Deputy Prime Minister Cynthia ‘Mother’ Pratt yesterday. “I want to congratulate the BOC for remembering him in this vein, and also the Bahamian people as a whole.”

The former deputy prime minister, along with Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Cole, will serve as patrons for the second special event on the BOC’s calendar in the coming weeks.

Next Saturday, the BOC’s Women & Sports Commission will host a gala luncheon inside the Crown Ballroom at Atlantis, honoring 40 Bahamian women who made significant contributions to the development of sports over the years.

“We in the Bahamas Olympic Committee deem it very important to honor these 40 women who have contributed to The Bahamas, being known as a sports power around the world,” said Miller. “They have become examples for many young women in sports around The Bahamas today. Many of these outstanding women continue to give back by coaching other women in various sports and teaching them of the benefits of becoming good role models through sports. The Olympic Movement in The Bahamas can only benefit from helping to honor these 40 outstanding sports women. We intend for this to become a yearly calendar event for the BOC in honoring women through sports.”

Pratt said that she is delighted to be a part of the special recognition event, adding that The Bahamas has come a long way in sports.

“Women in The Bahamas have been blessed. As we look back at women in sports, it’s good to know that you are remembered,” she said yesterday. “Many women today, who are still alive, you would not have heard much about them other than when they competed. They are still here, and have carried the banner of this country in basketball, softball, volleyball, track and so many other sports.

“The bottom line is that they are being remembered, and it speaks volumes of how women are seen in our country today. Women are making strides, and with our young girls, it is better for them to be involved in sports than for them to be idle. Sports could only teach you positive things, and that is why, in our schools, and clubs, we have some community programs going on, to include sporting activities.”

Pratt, a former outstanding athlete for The Bahamas, was a part of historic national softball team which won the first international medal for Bahamian women in sports. In 1976, they won the gold medal at the Caribbean Amateur Softball Tournament (CAST) Tournament in Belize, four years after being shut out. Those same women returned in 1981 to win the bronze medal at the Softball World Championships in Santa Clara, California.

Florence Rolle, who was a member of that team, said that she feels honored to be one of the 40 women to be honored by the BOC’s Women & Sports Commission. Former national team player in volleyball Cora Hepburn, who is one of four special honorees that night along with Pratt, Cole and Betty Kelly-Kenning, is the chairperson of the women and sports commission. She also serves as a vice president on the BOC.

“I just want to congratulate Hepburn and the Bahamas Olympic Committee for remembering to honor these women. It will cause them to recognize that they have not been forgotten,” said Pratt. “When you look at the women’s softball team from 1981, all of these women are still alive today. That was the first international medal that was won by women in this country, and we are very proud of that.”

One of the 40 honorees next Saturday, Jennifer Isaacs-Dotson, represented this country as a national team member in volleyball, softball and netball.

“I just want to congratulate Sir Arlington Butler for receiving such a prestigious award. We are elated that The Bahamas has been chosen to receive such a prestigious award. Also, I want to thank the Bahamas Olympic Committee for organizing such an event to honor women in this country who have not been recognized for their accomplishments in the world of sports,” she added.

The 40 women who will be honored next Saturday are: Rolle, Isaacs-Dotson, the Golden Girls - Pauline Davis-Thompson, Eldece Clarke, Savetheda Fynes, Chandra Sturrup and Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie; Natasha Brown, Mynez Cargill-Sherman, Jackie Conyers, Laverne Eve, Shonel Ferguson, Ernestine Butler-Stubbs, Judy Hamilton, Vicky Knowles-Andrews, Monique Leary, Laurie Lightfoot, Lori Lowe, Gena Mackey, Marina McClain, Yolett McCuin, Evanette McPhee-Davis, Jennise McKenzie, Jeannie Minus, Jennifer Mortimer, Hattie Moxey, Edith Powell, Kimberley Rolle, Waltiea Rolle, Winnifred Bethel-Russell, Thora Sweeting, Della-Reese Symonette, Charmaine Wallace, Celestine Albury, Tonique Williams, Oria Wood-Knowles, Linda Woodside-Major, Dianne Woodside, Barbara Thompson and Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace.

The special recognition event coincides with the 40th anniversary of The Bahamas as an independent nation.

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