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HomeSports ScopeStrong focus on securing services of Hield, Ayton for Pan Am Games essential

Strong focus on securing services of Hield, Ayton for Pan Am Games essential

There is a lot of time available to the Bahamas Basketball Federation (BBF) to pull out all the stops in order for Chavano “Buddy” Hield and DeAndre Ayton to be in The Bahamas’ delegation for the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, later this year.

It would be an uplifting scene for Team Bahamas, indeed, if, during the opening ceremony at the Peru National Stadium, Hield (talented shooting guard for the Sacramento Kings) and Ayton (starting center for the Phoenix Suns) are out front with such as Shaunae Miller-Uibo and Steven Gardiner (of athletics), as the country’s flag is observed by millions around the world.

This is a special sports moment for The Bahamas.

The Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, through the government of The Bahamas; the Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC); and the BBF are challenged to secure the funding necessary to best fortify this year’s Pan Am representatives. In recent times, the Pan Am Games competition has taken a seat far behind the Olympic Games, in terms of local preparation.

In truth, the interest in the Pan Am Games for Bahamians has diminished. We win at least one medal every time at the Olympics these days, so there has not been the great national focus on the lesser senior competitive forums within the Olympic movement, meaning the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games and the Commonwealth Games, along with the Pan Am Games.

I recall the lean years, though, and for emphasis refer to the 1970 CAC Games, when we won one medal (a high jump bronze by Lloyd Turnquest); the 1974 CAC Games (the lone medal being a boxing silver in the middleweight division by Nat Knowles); and the 1975 Pan American Games when we won just two medals (Danny Smith’s 110 meters high hurdles silver and Mike Sands’ 200 meters bronze).

I submit that there should be a re-commitment to prioritizing the aforementioned competitive platforms with the same zeal evident when we approach the Olympic Games. I hold the view that by doing such we would be building a strong bridge that would lead to more glamorous outings at the Olympic Games.

Let’s begin the process with the 18th Pan American Games, scheduled for July 26 to August 11.

With Hield and Ayton, an impressive representation against the best teams of the Pan Am region, inclusive of the United States, Brazil, Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Mexico, is highly probable.

A medal is not out of the question.

“We will definitely engage them aggressively. We need them. We have already reached out to NBA (National Basketball Association) contacts,” said BBF Head Coach Norris Bain, regarding Hield and Ayton earlier this week, after the national team qualified for the Pan American Games from the FIBA (International Basketball Federation) AmeriCup Pre-Qualifiers in Belize City, Belize.

The BOC is on board, for sure, and recognizes the fantastic opportunity to enhance The Bahamas’ sports brand.

For the FIBA AmeriCup representation, the BBF got financial support from the BOC, so it stands to reason that BOC President Romell Knowles, Secretary General Derron Donaldson and their executive colleagues would be prepared to reach into the Olympic Solidarity Fund to see just what could be provided to the cause.

Seize the moment!

• To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at e-mail address sturrup1504@gmail.com or on WhatsApp at (242) 727-6363.

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