Friday, Nov 15, 2019
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BOC leading the way toward a positive change in sports

I wish to reiterate a point made in Sports Scope previously, how essential it is for the Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC) to take the lead in ensuring a positive change in national sports.

The two prime catalysts of the Olympic Movement in the country at present, BOC President Romell Knowles and BOC Secretary General Derron Donaldson, ought to be mindful of the expectations.

The greatest problem for sports in the country for most of this decade, has been the lack of appropriate direction coming from the sports ministry. This is really the core issue.

Time after time, I have sought to suggest, while utilizing this forum, a clear pathway toward transparency, and productivity, related to the funds put forth for sports development in total, by the government of The Bahamas; the distinction between the global authority of the international federations over member national organizations and the relationships of the latter to the government through the sports ministry; the imperative outlook regarding the monitoring of government sports grants, subventions and additional annual financial gestures; and the difference between independent sports federations and the quasi-government entities such as the National Sports Authority (NSA), the Bahamas Anti-Doping Commission (BADC) and the Bahamas Boxing Commission (BBC).

There should always be a clear understanding of the aforementioned within the sports ministry, among, in particular, the director of sports and the various sports officers. They are the ones obligated to present the proper sports picture to ministers, permanent secretaries, deputy permanent secretaries and undersecretaries, as they come and go.

Once this formula is followed, the process of the government of The Bahamas maximizing its financial efforts for national development and the global successes of our sports ambassadors would be more seamless, not perfect mind you, but definitely more efficient.

I make my point from a background of personal experience. I, once, not that long ago, functioned as sports consultant, in a team that included the late Tommie Robinson and Grafton Ifill Jr. for the sports ministry, under the leadership of Director of Sports Martin Lundy. Yes, he led the process. We had a great relationship with then Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Neville Wisdom, but from the outset, the proper protocol was in place.

I recall vividly, Wisdom introducing Robinson, Ifill Jr. and I to Lundy and explaining the respective portfolios we had as consultants. The protocol was established and we worked closely with Lundy from that point onward. I was particularly grateful to Lundy for the knowledge and insight he provided regarding annual and supplementary sports grants; and the subvention program.

It was a productive period. We got a number of things right, including taking off the subvention program a former Olympian who had not been active in over a year and had virtually retired. He will read this column and understand the point being made.

The “appropriate direction” to best employ the assistance of the government to the national sports fraternity, must come from the director and the sports officers. I suggest that the federations that are up in arms and quick to point fingers directly at the current minister, acknowledge the reality of the situation inside the sports ministry.

I advise also, that they clean their respective houses and show proof of their own transparency before attacking the government through the sports ministry. While the “appropriate” monitoring of the government sports funding has not been a reality of late, federations have been guilty as well, of not providing budget and financial reports that reconcile, before reaching out for more money.

There has been continuity of this debilitating culture. So, indeed, just as fingers are pointed out, some should be pointed inwardly.

The Bahamas Associations of Athletic Associations (BAAA) has been the biggest culprit, responsible for a non-transparent attitude. There were the times, after benefiting from the largest category of annual grants, the BAAA still hounded the government to cover the entire cost for plane travel to CARIFTA Games destinations. It was akin to holding the sports ministry hostage, totally oblivious to the needs of other sporting disciplines. Financial reports were not consistent.

Thus, we presently have this conundrum within the national sports fraternity. I submit that all and sundry who represent national sports ought to do some reflection and commit to moving forward, together, in the interest of heightening the national sports brand.

I wish to emphasize the rallying cry of the BOC, led by Knowles and Donaldson. They proclaim: “We expect to charter a course of change and understanding” regarding national sports.

These two gentlemen are on the right course. Assisted by their colleagues, and in partnerships with other national sports leaders, they could make a positive difference.

• To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at e-mail address sturrup1504@gmail.com or on WhatsApp at (242) 727-6363.

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