Lanisha Rolle becomes the country’s first female sports minister
The Bahamas will have its first ever female minister of sports as the Cabinet Office of The Bahamas announced yesterday that Lanisha Rolle will be the new Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, replacing Michael Pintard.
Rolle, the Member of Parliament for the Seabreeze constituency, comes over from the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development, while Pintard goes over to the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources after serving as the government’s point person for sports for a little over a year.
There’s very little knowledge of Rolle’s background in sports in the country, but Romell “Fish” Knowles – the lead administrator in The Bahamas’ most powerful sporting body, the Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC) – is optimistic that Rolle will perform well and handle herself accordingly. The BOC president said yesterday that he welcomes the gender switch and a fresh face in sports.
“She is not known to have much experience in sports, but from what I understands, she is very attentive and one who listens. I believe she is a quick learner and will do very well,” said Knowles. “You don’t have to be a sports expert to run the sports ministry. You just have to have a passion for what you do, and be willing to learn. It’s really incumbent on persons like myself to assist with her transition. From what I know of her, she is very passionate and has a genuine love for people. As long as she listens she will be okay. I will do whatever I can to help put her on the right track.”
Understandably, Minister Pintard wouldn’t have been able to implement any major programs or oversee any major breakthrough developments in just one year, but one of the projects that he was working on, was a complete overhaul of the Subvention Program.
According to the minister, in his last interview on the matter, a revised draft has been completed and just needs to go before cabinet for approval. It will now be up to Rolle to push the agenda.
“Properly subventing the athletes is of particular concern, and that is one of the areas that she will have to address,” said Knowles. “We have to be able to look at the athletes who are no longer competing and be able to put them in different roles where they could effectively serve this country. She has to have a holistic view about how she prepares for the challenges ahead. Sports funding continues to be an issue. At one point, the sporting federations received $80,000 grants from the government. That has been reduced significantly to about $25,000, and that is putting a lot of strain and mental stress on sports leaders.
“The government needs to address proper funding, particularly for development on the Family Islands which are in need of attention. The Family Islands are in dire need of facilities, coaching and training. We have to be able to divert some of the attention away from Nassau and Grand Bahama to the Family Islands. Also, we have to ensure that team sports are included in grants, so that those athletes will have an opportunity to train and develop. It’s a huge responsibility that the new minister has, but I’m sure she is up to the task.”
Whatever transpires going forward, Rolle has already made history as the first female sports minister in an independent Bahamas. Sports in itself embodies a vast area, but Rolle will also be in charge of youth and culture. Knowles said that she will find out very quickly that sports by itself is very tedious portfolio, but he expects the new minister to hit the ground running and eventually become very effective.
“A part of the mandate of the Bahamas Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is to promote gender equality in sports. I know that Cora Hepburn who is in charge of our women’s movement in the BOC welcomes this move, I welcome it, and I believe the majority of sports leaders in the country will welcome it. I’m not concerned about gender. Our culture in the BOC is all about how to groom the next set of leaders, and Minister Rolle is one of them. I believe that she will do a commendable job.”
Rolle was one of four ministers in Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis’ cabinet to be re-assigned to different ministries yesterday. As mentioned, former sports minister Pintard goes over to the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources, Renward Wells will be the new Minister of Transport and Local Government, and Frankie Campbell will move over to the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development.
The prime minister said in an interview yesterday that the move is not an indication of dissatisfaction on his part of any of the four in their former posts, but rather that he is quite pleased with the performance and contribution of all four over the past year, and looks forward to the work that they will do in their new posts.
Education: College of The Bahamas, Associates in Accounting