Friday, Jul 3, 2020
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Government obligated to do better for sports

I read with great interest Nassau Guardian Sports Editor Sheldon Longley’s article that provided comments from Prime Minister (PM) Dr. Hubert Minnis regarding a greater financial focus for the national sports program.

The big question that rests with me is whether in the moment, the prime minister did what politicians are known to do – offer good sounding words, with no intent for meaningful follow-ups.

“The government truly is committed to sports. Sports is very important because not only does it enhances discipline, but it also enhances leadership. In our society, discipline is one of the important things that you need and from that comes great leaders. To be a successful athlete, you have to be disciplined, focused and determined.

“I would hope that we could do more (for our athletes). The Bahamian people must understand that we spend millions of dollars in tourism to market The Bahamas. Individuals like Shaunae and others are exposing The Bahamas to millions and billions of people. That in itself is 10-20 times more than the tourism budget,” the prime minister was quoted as saying.

Sometimes, the PM is so very convoluted when he speaks. He seems to contradict himself and there are occasions when he is difficult to follow.

What I get from his comments on this occasion though, is that our awesome sports ambassadors such as Shaunae Miller-Uibo (who visited with him earlier this week), Donald Thomas, Jonquel Jones, Chavano ‘Buddy’ Hield, Waltiea Rolle and Joanna Evans of this present time; and the Golden Girls (Pauline Davis-Thompson, Chandra Sturrup, Eldece Clarke, Savatheda Fynes and Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie), Mark Knowles, Tonique Williams and Chris Brown of a just past era; and Sir Durward Knowles, Sloane Farrington Cecil Cooke, Bobby Symonette, Tommy Robinson, Everette ‘Elisha Obed’ Ferguson, Gomeo Brennan, Mychal Thompson and Yama Bahama of an earlier era, are of a higher value, 10-20 times more than what we get from the tourism budget.

I wholeheartedly support that position. I have emphasized that reality in this space on many occasions.

If Prime Minister Dr. Minnis is a believer of what he has said, then upping the annual national budget allocation for sports development ought to be automatic for him. Other prime ministers before Dr. Minnis never made that declaration.

Long-time Prime Minister Sir Lynden Pindling demonstrated his high regard for sports by establishing a ministry for the same, in 1977. His successors have not done justice to the national sports program, financially.

Now, this prime minister makes an excellent comparison between the quality exposure the country gets from our elite athletes and the tourism budget.

Hopefully he will act accordingly. The time is near indeed when Dr. Minnis and his Cabinet will have to begin crunching the numbers to craft the 2019-2020 national budget. If Dr. Minnis is true to his belief, greater funding is to come for the national sports program.

• To respond to this column, interested persons are asked to kindly contact Fred Sturrup at e-mail address, or on WhatsApp at (242) 727-6363.

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