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CARIFTA could be headed to The Bahamas

The island of Grand Bahama could very well get an economic boast, if The Bahamas through the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations(BAAA), hosts this year’s top junior regional track and field meet.

BAAA officials were approached recently by the president of the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association(NACAC)Neville’Teddy’McCook, about hosting the prestigious CARIFTA Track and Field Championships. It’s still up in the air whether or not the BAAA 

will host the Easter weekend games, but BAAA President Mike Sands said if they do, it will be held in Grand Bahama.

“Let me be very clear about this, NACAC, the governing body for track and field, approached us, the BAAA, with respect to whether or not we can host the CARIFTA Games because St. Kitts and Jamaica both withdrew,”said Sands.”They asked us if we can host it. Our initial reaction was, due to the fact that the stadium is being constructed, we were not in the position to do so, and then, on second thought, we discussed the possibilities of Grand Bahama for a number of reasons.

“Grand Bahama has some basic infrastructures in place which can make it possible, so we put together a budget. We had preliminary discussions with the government with the view to us hosting the event in Grand Bahama. The cost is a half million dollars. There is funding which is available through

various sources like title sponsors and corporate sponsors. We have not been able to secure all of the funds at this point and we are still diligently seeking the funds to do so. We will, hopefully, by the end of this week, be in position to say to the government, these are the amount of funds that we have secured…. do we have your support in doing so?The government will have to give us their full support in order for us to do so.”

Sands said he and the other executive members are not prepared to put the government and the country at a financial risk, despite the successful hosting of events in the past. The last time the BAAA hosted a major regional event was in 2005, the senior edition of the Central American and Caribbean(CAC)Championships. In 2003, the CARIFTA Track and Field Championships were held here. Both events were held at the Thomas A. Robinson Track and Field Stadium, confirmed BAAA office secretary Ann Thompson.

It is being spread on the internet, and in other news publications, that this year’s championships can be canceled if The Bahamas does not agree to host it. The championships are in its 40th year. Sands said: ”If we are not prepared, I am sure that the government will not allow us to put the country at a financial risk to host these championships. I am saying that to say that no decision has been made by the BAAA or the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture to host CARIFTA. It is still in its discussion phase. I have seen reports that have been brought to my attention that the country is hosting the championships. No official decision has been made. I have also seen reports where the president of NACAC has indicated that he has resolved some issues that I had concerns with, and the only concerns that we had were finances. I do not know that those financial issues have been resolved because we don’t have the specific numbers, but I know that we had said to the president of NACAC, the amount of funds that we need if we were to indeed do this.

“Now while the half million dollars might sound like a lot of money, bear in mind, like I said, there are some funds that has been committed from NACAC, the IAAF(International Association of Athletic Federations)and proposed title sponsors. That has gotten us pretty much half-way there. We will tally that amount, once we have specific numbers and we will hopefully, like I said, present to the government our position and then seek the government’s support for the event. That is where we are today.”

Sands said he will like to give the local athletes the’home field’advantage where the possibility of winning the CARIFTA title is greater. At last year’s championships, which were hosted in the Cayman Islands, The Bahamas finished third with 29 medals, six gold, 10 silver and 13 bronze. A total of 72 medals, 37 gold, 22 silver and 13 bronze gave Jamaica the overall title. The second spot was attained by Trinidad and Tobago, which finished with 12 gold, 16 silver and 12 bronze, for a total of 40 medals. Barbados and Grenada were fourth and fifth respectively. At the championships, 12 CARIFTA records fell, two of which were by Bahamians.

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