Tuesday, May 26, 2020
HomeOpinionLettersOn investing in our national sports brand: cementing a national identity

On investing in our national sports brand: cementing a national identity

Dear Editor,

I take full and unmitigated responsibility for the conduct of affairs, administration and protocols of the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture during my tenure as minister.

I again congratulate and sing the praises of my full team at the ministry and its components for the great work we achieved as Team Bahamas. They performed yeomen’s work with limited resources, manpower and against a political culture which seeks to demonize any purposeful goodness in this country.

Together we remained and were unprecedented in creating, developing and exporting the Sports in Paradise brand to the world. Then we were successful in bringing it home for all Bahamians to see, hear, and feel the roar of the crowd as the world watched the manner of our bearing. On all occasions it made us proud to be Bahamian.

The RBPF noted calm on the crime front during these events, so we worked tirelessly to train, mentor and provide the youth of the nation with guidance, training and exposure to the business model behind the wide world of sports.

With one of the smallest budgets in the ministerial portfolio, the team I led at the ministry has every right to be proud of what we achieved. And I am humbled by the cracks, crannies and islets that were not reached or touched by us to mutual satisfaction.

Let me remind the Bahamian people that we staged over 17 international events here on our soil. We created a new national stadia: beach soccer, baseball, Moore’s Island Sports Academy (almost complete). These facilities were brilliantly tabled by all Bahamian design, engineering and construction firms. All necessary measures were taken to meet international standards. World governing sport bodies gave them their highest rating. So while our competition have discovered the value of sun sand and sea, we now added sport.

We thrilled the world with the IAAF World Relays and got the nod for us to be the one and only place in the world where you could ever see this stunning mega event.

We hosted the only NCAA Football Bowl held outside the USA with ESPN co-branding.

We hosted Sir Austin Sealey at 5 CARIFTA games where for the first time he saw his dream of judo, polo, swim and track championships concurrently.

We hosted the CONCACAF Beach Soccer Championships. Then we went on to stun the world with FIFA World Cup Beach Soccer.

We created Legends Walk at the National Stadium; opened “Sweetbells” drive. People came to see what the buzz was all about.

We refurbished the Thomas A. Robinson Track and Field Stadium (TAR) – new Mondo track and new FIFA-certified infield. We upgraded everything at the old TAR stadium. We saw the new drag racing strip, all new tennis courts at the National Tennis Center and a rugby field added to the brand new University Commons.

We arrived at these high points as we pursued the vision of Sports in Paradise as an international Bahamian brand designed to give our country and countrymen all of the benefits and derivatives of an international multi-billion-dollar sports and entertainment industry.

We were cognizant of the proximity of our country to the world’s largest economy and the desire and possibilities of major sporting and entertainment events seeking out our country as an adopted home.

To this end we contracted the most prestigious sports and entertainment company in North America to assist in The Bahamas realizing this goal post and the establishment of this major economic tier.

Out of this relationship, Sports in Paradise is today a celebrated brand exclusive to the Bahamian people and the Bahamian nation.

Doors were opened for us to sit and talk and negotiate with the leaders of major international sporting bodies, including the PGA, NFL, MLB and the NBA.

Sports in Paradise was formatted, presented and introduced to these organizations and appetites were whetted and prepared for this new industry in The Bahamas.

Through all of this, Team Bahamas was also very much cognizant of the need for young Bahamians to access and develop their skills and training from the protocols developed by these international sporting bodies.

We are proud of the long walk we took to the further development of this economic tier in sports and entertainment.

Sadly, there exists in our country, a petty, jaundiced, unprincipled, evil and destructive agenda of some who feel it is their political duty to use school-book typesets and student-companion questions to muddy the water and make what is good and noble and wholesome seem untoward.

For my own part I am not surprised or daunted by the recent back-jumping exercise of others to pay homage and obedience to their political masters.

I will continue to operate and subscribe to Julius Caesar’s rhetorical question: “Is anything too good for a soldier of Rome?”

Let’s give young Bahamians a sporting chance to be the best.

The Bahamas cannot cut itself off from the rest of the world and expect fame, fortune and peace.

Governments and public officers must be prepared to think and operate at international best practice level.

Such personalized commentary drawn from novices and political operatives as occasioned recently does not elevate the country or protect our brand or our national character.

Let’s pray we decide to continue to protect and prosper this blessed Bahamas.

It has been great honor to serve you all. Until then, I remain your humble servant.

– Dr. Daniel Johnson

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