Wednesday, Aug 21, 2019
HomeSports ScopeNew CARIFTA Games approach could have long-range benefits  

New CARIFTA Games approach could have long-range benefits  

Grand Bahamian Ali Rolle put forth a concept recently that makes a world of sense.

“I’d rather have 20 athletes represent us and each of them win a medal, preferably a gold, than for us to take a large team and only a small percentage achieve the podium,” said Head Coach for The Bahamas’ 2019 CARIFTA Team Rolle.

Rolle emphasized that a quality team is the focus, he, his coaching colleagues and executives of the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) will have along the way to selecting the local representatives. This year, the CARIFTA Games, the most impressive and meaningful junior track and field competition in the entire Caribbean region, will be staged in the Cayman Islands April 20-23.

Jamaica will win this upcoming 48th version of the CARIFTA Games and the subsequent ones for the foreseeable future. Put quite simply, Jamaica is leagues ahead of the rest of the CARIFTA Games group of nations.

However, the long-range objective ought to be to become more competitive with the greatest track and field Caribbean country ever. The Bahamas has not been much of a competition for Jamaica and no other team from the region has. We can set as a goal, though, to strive for the day when it would not be a foregone conclusion that the CARIFTA Games title would belong to Jamaica.

Rolle’s outlook of a smaller, but qualitative team of participants, is a good start. Last year, the team numbered 65 and we were still a long way behind the winner, although in second place. Jamaica captured 47 gold medals in its haul of 86. The Bahamas grabbed just six gold and 35 total medals.

The disparity is frustrating. We’re better than that!

So, there is full support from this forum for the new CARIFTA Games approach that, hopefully, will be followed until such time as we get much closer and ultimately draw alongside Jamaica.

When it becomes clear that borderline athletes would not make the team, that will spur others to work harder to actually hit the CARIFTA qualifying standards. Parents and guardians would apply more attention to the needs of their children, in terms of best preparing them to qualify outright.

That’s great motivation and it will breed a higher level of excellence within our junior track and field program.

We’ve had exceptional CARIFTA athletes before, but not in abundance like Jamaica. Coach Rolle and the rest of the BAAA would do well to recognize fully, the big gap between Jamaica and the sister countries, The Bahamas included.

The concentration on quality is commendable. There should be continuity of that mindset.

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

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