With an $850,000 budget in place for the current year, and nearly a dry cupboard of funds when they entered office, the new administration of the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) is left wondering how they will make ends meet.
The cash-strapped BAAA still has every intention of having full representation at the three remaining international meets on the calendar this season, but is appealing to the Government of The Bahamas and corporate Bahamas for much needed financial assistance. In a letter that was made public yesterday afternoon, BAAA President Drumeco Archer outlined the current financial fiasco of the organization – arguably the most prestigious and most accomplished sporting body in the country.
Archer said that they met just $15,000 in the BAAA account when they came into office last November, and were immediately faced with bills of $7,000 to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), $3,000 to the Bahamas Association of Certified Officials (BACO) and $4,736 to the Tek Team.
Additionally, there were monthly administrative expenses and two national team trips – the CARIFTA Games and the IAAF World Relays. The relays cost the BAAA $70,000 alone, and it was a dismal showing by Team Bahamas as the men’s 4×200 meters (m) relay team was disqualified, and the much-heralded men’s 4x400m relay team never stepped on to the track. It was reported that 200-400 national record holder Steven Gardiner suffered an injury, and there was insufficient time to sign up a replacement.
“Our balance sheet would show that the federation was left in the red (when we came to office),” said Archer in the letter. “In January, we immediately were faced with having to raise funds while operating track and field meets, paying the NSA (National Sports Authority) an average of $3,000 for stadium usage, BACO, Tek Team, food and drinks and associated fees which averages $12,000 per meet. Meanwhile, we are still left with the mandate to facilitate athletes travel and preparedness.
“In fairness to the outgoing administration (as well as successive administrations), this is not an atypical occurrence as track and field with over 1000 athletes and an average of seven major competitions in one year has always struggled with raising money to finance team travel and facilitate training and development. The members, along with the entire nation, demand that we give our best, while there is no regard for the full-time job that goes into running this federation. The work is unrelenting and the work is left in the hands of so very few, in spite of our plea for assistance from our members, the Government of The Bahamas as well as corporate Bahamas.”
With the Pan Am Under-20 Athletics Championships, the North American, Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) Under-18 and Under-23 Athletics Championships and the IAAF World Championships on the horizon, and even with some semblance of responsibility toward the Pan Am Games despite that being a Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC) event, the BAAA is crying out for support from the public.
“The fact of the matter is that this is an unsustainable model, and without assistance, we might as well advise our athletes to unpack their bags,” said Archer. “This is a voluntary job that has corporate-level financial demands and skillsets. We are now in the gun lap of attempting to raise funds to underwrite the cost of a number of competitions and initiatives this year.”
The federation is offering a 15 percent commission to all agents on all donations and promotional dollars brought into the organization. Archer said that although the situation might look bleak, failure is not an option as the future of Bahamian track and field depends on them.
“I am advised that there are persons out there sitting and hoping that we fail, and wishing that we are starved by not having access to financial support,” said Archer. “In the end, the success of our work directly benefits the country through a growing sporting dynasty while providing scholarship opportunities to an average of 100 athletes per year, an average of four million dollars per year. I, therefore, ask that you do your best in assisting the federation by directing companies to us for sponsorship opportunities. Do it for Team Bahamas,” he said.
The granddaddy of them all – the 17th IAAF World Championships – is set for September 27 to October 6 at the renovated multi-purpose Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar. The Bahamas has won a total of 23 medals in the history of the biennial world championships – seven gold, eight silver and eight bronze. Most recently, The Bahamas won silver and bronze at the 16th IAAF World Championships two years ago in London, England.
Education: College of The Bahamas, Associates in Accounting