Monday, Jun 17, 2019
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Jonquel Jones to compete for Bosnia

As per the warning from this space regarding the high interest other countries have for our elite athletes, Bosnia-Herzegonina (or Bosna i Hercegovina – BiH) has stepped forward officially.

At the recently held 152nd session of the Council of Ministers in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Grand Bahama native and sensational international basketball player Jonquel Jones was on the agenda under the heading: “Admission of basket(ball) player into the BiH citizenship”.

Following is the official statement from the council: “The council of ministers of BiH, upon a proposal by the Ministry of Civil Affairs, took a decision on admission of female basket(ball) player Jonquel Ortflea Thierese Jones into the citizenship of Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

Just like that, we lost Jones. There is an international condition that must be met in order for a player of one particular nationality, to be cleared to compete for another. A release must be forwarded. Jones saw to that. She communicated with the Bahamas Basketball Federation (BBF) and was released.

Subsequently, BBF President Charlie “Softly” Robins informed me on Wednesday, that he understood the situation and felt it was “only fair” to let her move on.

“I had to do that. There were other thoughts, but my view was that we had to let her go. I said under my watch, I will not hold any athlete back. I can tell you, more Bahamians are going to go. If we are not able to pay them anywhere near their market value, we will continue to lose them. We have to be able to treat them right (financially),” said Robins.

He is to be congratulated for his administrative maturity and for acknowledging the reality of the situation. It is understood that, along with her citizenship status in Bosnia-Herzegovina, came financial commitments that make the pride of Holmes Rock in west Grand Bahama, comfortable going forward in her life.

This development should send a loud message to our government. The time has come to revisit how, as a nation, we regard the Bahamians who have evolved to the point of being some of the best sports performers the world over.

They are on the largest of the world’s sports stages, and, accordingly, representatives of other countries, particularly European ones at this time, are always on the lookout to recruit.

Jones, in just three years, has boosted her market value tremendously. She has become one of the bright young stars of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) as a player for the Connecticut Sun. The last two seasons, she has been the catalyst of Connecticut’s run to postseason competition. She has captured the WNBA most improved and best sixth woman awards, been selected to a WNBA all-star team; and dominated league play in South Korea and China.

Now she is looking toward attaining yet another milestone — that of becoming a major factor on the Bosnia-Herzegovina national team. I congratulate Jonquel.

She is a prime example of an amazing commodity owned by The Bahamas. Indeed, The Bahamas’ sports band is mighty. Jonquel came up through the HOYTES (Helping Our Youth Through Education and Sports) basketball development program headed by Coach Gladstone “Moon” McPhee. Bosnia-Herzegovina appreciates what she brings to the table.

Thus, Bahamian Jonquel Jones will now compete for Bosnia-Herzegovina. The country is located in south-eastern Europe in the Balkan Peninusula, with Croatia and Serbia as neighboring nations. Bosnia-Herzegovina’s population, as per the 2013 census, is 3,531,159. Sarajevo is the capital and largest city in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

This little country, The Bahamas, home to less than half a million people, produces athletes who are coveted by nations who have millions of people.

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

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