Hundreds of young athletes from throughout the country have converged on the capital island of New Providence, gearing up for the 35th Annual Frank “Pancho” Rahming Primary Schools Track and Field Championships which get underway today and will run through Friday at the original Thomas A. Robinson Track and Field Stadium.
The meet has grown in leaps and bounds over the years, progressing from a meet which originally catered to just schools in New Providence to a true national meet with representation from all over the country. The meet is staged by the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, and according to a senior official at the ministry, Mike Sands, over 1,200 athletes from 60 schools from throughout the country are expected to participate this year.
About 15 schools from New Providence will take part in the championships, another 11 schools from Grand Bahama will compete and there will be 34 Family Island schools. Competing for the first time is Pirates Well Primary School out of Mayaguana, courtesy of a travel grant from the Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC).
“Our main objective is to assist the sporting federations under our purview, but there are organizations and private entities out there that need assistance as well,” said BOC Secretary General Derron Donaldson.
“This might not be directly in our area of funding, but when out islands make a plea for assistance, we try to help, and that is what the Olympic Committee is all about – spreading around the wealth and assisting where we could.
“The aim was to help Mayaguana out. They were excited about the possibility of coming to the nationals, and we didn’t want to disappoint them. This is where professional and Olympic careers start. A number of Bahamian Olympians are from the Family Islands. We’re here to help where we can. Hopefully, the government, corporate Bahamas and other sponsors will come onboard and help some deserving kids to travel to Nassau for the nationals. This is what it’s all about.”
A technical/scratch meeting was held late yesterday evening at the Courtyard by Marriott, Nassau Downtown, to finalize plans for the three-day primary school track and field nationals. The meet got started 34 years ago as the Ovaltine Primary Schools Track and Field Championships. It was named in Frank “Pancho” Rahming’s honor about six years ago, and is a staple on the local athletics calendar from year to year.
A number of local-based schools will have full representation at the meet. Pirates Well has about 20 members on their track and field team, and Donaldson said it was the BOC’s pleasure to assist them. They donated $2,000 toward the school’s travel expenses.
“I’m sure it will be all worth it when we see the joy on these kids’ faces,” said Donaldson. “These kids were training hard, and really wanted an opportunity to come here and compete in the primary school nationals. We’re just glad that we were able to assist.”
The meet gets underway at 9:45 a.m. this morning with the official opening ceremony and the march pass of athletes. It is expected to be extremely competitive over the next three days.