American football in The Bahamas poised for a new era of exposure
For decades, American football in the country was stuck in a tug-o-war battle, regarding which organization owned “international recognition” status.
The now seemingly defunct Bahamas American Football Federation (BAFF) seized an opportunity a little over 10 years ago to become the official member representing The Bahamas at the table of the International Federation of American Football (IFAF).
Meanwhile of course, those associated with the founding American football entity in the country, steamed and documented their opposition to the authority upon which BAFF operated. Indeed, the Commonwealth American Football League (CAFL) that evolved out of the first organized group emphasized its disagreement and disgust, nationally and internationally.
The CAFL was on a shaky wicket (internationally) at best though, once the IFAF remained intent to honor its member body, BAFF, as the prime organization in the country for the sport. Based on the international sports code, there was little that the CAFL could do. In this space, on numerous occasions, I pointed out that reality.
As fate would have it though, the IFAF became fractured, and the BAFF, according to all indications, threw its full support behind one of the factions. Unfortunately for the BAFF, its IFAF associates functioned in a manner that was considered quite disdainful to the country and some Bahamians in particular, who were connected to the ill-fated World Flag Football Championships that was proposed for Grand Bahama in 2016.
At the height of the controversy, former Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe convened a meeting of top American football affiliates in the country. At that time, the CAFL, headed by Tony Maycock, took a position that exemplified in my view, a matured national outlook. The CAFL declared that it would not support the hosting of an international event that was rushed and destined to cause the country embarrassment.
It was a sound decision, and at the same time, opened the situation to a compromise. Alas, the IFAF faction that was linked to the BAFF was determined to force a certain time frame upon the sport and the country. Therefore, the BAFF became the Bahamian element of American football in the country, on the outside looking in. As the situation played out, of course, the international event did not take place, and The Bahamas was able to retain its tremendous reputation as a host country.
So, the CAFL is well positioned to take the sport of American football into a new and immensely progressive era. The relationship the Ministry of Tourism has forged with the Miami Dolphins and the Bahamas Bowl, collectively forms a most inspiring backdrop for the CAFL.
It is time for the CAFL to assume a greater overall business concept. The thousands of young males and females who play flag football, the organized tackle football action in several islands, and the multitude of the Bahamian youth communities with aspirations directly related to participation in the sport, send a resounding and encouraging message to the CAFL.
That message, simply put, is: “Maximize the present situation for American football in The Bahamas.”
Best wishes to the CAFL fraternity and certainly, to other sports groupings going forward.
- To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at [email protected] or on WhatsApp at (242) 727-6363.