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National imbalance, a deterrent to sports development process

With few exceptions, national teams that go forth to represent the country on the largest and most prestigious of world sporting stages are made up, for the most part, by residents from either the capital island of New Providence or the secondary prominent inhabited area, Grand Bahama.

It’s a safe bet, however, that in the less affluent Family Islands, raw talent – such as Vernetta Rolle (Long Island); Carl Oliver (Andros); Savatheda Fynes and Steven Gardiner (the Abacos); Danny Smith, Yama Bahama, Gomeo Brennan, Julian Brown, George Weech and Gary Davis (Bimini); Dexter Cambridge and Chris Brown (Eleuthera); Etienne Farquaharson II (Inagua); “Baby Boy” Rolle (Exuma); and Vince Ferguson (San Salvador) – are to be found presently, and in much greater numbers that yesteryear.

The hugeness of sports worldwide is manifested by the constant staging of regional and international events in one host country or the other. On another level, professional organizations are in abundance, and present the means of living for millions around the world, in actual competition or support situations, accommodations, transportation, catering, etc.

Accordingly, The Bahamas, with a sturdy sports fraternity that belies the population count, sends out thousands of sporting ambassadors each year and their representation collectively is at least on par with the best of others, and in my view, much better than most.

So, once again, I make the case for the powers that be, those politicians voted in to look after our affairs, to recognize the importance and value of the country’s sports commodity and place it much higher up on the national budget ladder. Sports should be among the top four budget allocations.

This is a great moment in time for national sports leaders to join me in lobbying for a heightened financial outlook for sports in The Bahamas, so that athletes/coaches could come from all over The Bahamas to be included in the sports ambassador category. There ought to be a shift in priorities in favor of our sporting fraternity.

Just let’s use as an example today: swimming.

Our valiant junior swimmers out of New Providence and Grand Bahama are, I submit, just the tip of the iceberg in terms of national talent spread across the archipelago. If, for instance, the grant for core sports federations went up to $150,000 per year, just think of the benefits that could come from outreach development programs in the Family Islands.

We would have raw talent discovered, refined and prepared to compete along with their peers from the two major islands on an ongoing basis. The same holds for track and field, volleyball, softball, baseball, boxing, basketball, etc.

No doubt the great imbalance the nation’s successive political leaders have been responsible for, over the last quarter of a century or so, has been quite a deterrent to the country’s sports development process.

I call upon Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis to ensure that his sports minister is empowered in order to best work toward maximizing the amazing amount of sporting talents this country has been blessed with.

Prime minister, the national sports fraternity needs your focus, your attention and accordingly the same from your Cabinet.

The national sports fraternity deserves as much. National sports leaders are thus challenged to help me continue to make the case.

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

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