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National sports academy crucial to growth process

Whether just good timing or an idea in his head previously, the establishment of a national sports academy has become a rallying slogan of Prime Minister Perry Christie. For the sports fraternity it is “a cry to arms” that must become resolute.

The focus must be purposeful, unwavering, and steadfast. The approaches to the stages of development of this national entity must be meaningful. Successful academies should be studied and patterned after. The country has taken a significant step in this regard with the recent signing of the Agreement for Sports Cooperation with Cuba.

The national sports academy is essential and crucial to sports growth in the country. Just look at what has happened throughout the world. Very near to us are prime examples in Cuba and Jamaica.

Far across the pond, in the Almaty Region of Kazakhstan, is another academy template. Bahamian boxer Carl Hield, who identifies so profoundly with the Cuban Sports System, is also closely connected to yet another academy.

This is what he had to say about the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) World Boxing Academy:

“AIBA really made me who I am today because I’ve been to all the Road To Dream Program camps, Italy, Baku (Azerbaijan), Wales and now I’m here (Almaty, Kazakhstan),” he said.

“It’s helping me because I’m the only elite boxer in my country. I don’t get decent sparring [there], and the training facilities (in The Bahamas) are really bad. So, thanks to the AIBA program I was able to come here two weeks before the tournament (World Championships) and get in good time with [boxers from] other countries and benefit from a good training program.”

Hield is a member of the AIBA Road To Dream Program and what he has to say is an indictment against the boxing training makeup in his country, but truthful nevertheless, and I applaud his courage to voice his dissatisfaction.

In essence however, Hield just speaks to the necessity for the National Sports Academy to evolve very quickly.

Hield has obviously come to appreciate the AIBA World Boxing Academy. Here is an idea of the objective of the AIBA World Boxing Academy and the structure put in place:

“AIBA is committed to developing the next generation of boxers, as well as supporting the development of our sport from grassroots through to the elite level. The first of its kind, the AIBA Boxing Academy is based in Talgar, Almaty Region, Kazakhstan. Completed in early 2013, the AIBA Boxing Academy is an integrated training institute that embraces all aspects of the development of the sport of boxing. World Class facilities will host World Class programs for AIBA National Member Federations. AIBA Academy will set best practice global standards for boxing education, development and performance.”

The complex is inclusive of a rooming house for up to 110 persons; a conference hall, medical and sports science departments, five boxing rings, a fully equipped training gym, a fully equipped cardio gym, medical screening, an anti-doping laboratory, swimming pool, running track and soccer pitch.

The overall structure of the AIBA Road To Dream Program prepares boxers (like elite Carl Hield) for major tournaments; provides video analysis, sports science, sports psychology, athletic education and post-career development.

So readers, no doubt you recognize the tall order in front of those who are charged with crafting the National Sports Academy of The Bahamas.

• To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at [email protected]

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