Friday, Oct 18, 2019
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Special Olympics Bahamas deserves full commitment

• Fred Sturrup is currently out of the country and during this time, Nassau Guardian Sports will feature a few of his columns from the past. Sturrup’s regular columns will return on July 5, 2019.

They operate almost in anonymity when compared to core sports peers, yet the disabled athletes are the ones who most deserve special attention.

We showcase them very seldom. Perhaps we all should accept the blame for not putting the Special Olympics Bahamas organization in the spotlight more often. No doubt thousands of Bahamians became knowledgeable of Special Olympics Bahamas for the first time recently due to news of our representatives at the 15th Special Olympics World Summer Games in the city of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Yes, those wonderful Bahamian flag standard bearers made their mark internationally by winning 14 total medals, six gold, three silver and five of the bronze variety.

They will be feted no doubt, probably by the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture and also the Ministry of Tourism, for the collective achievement. Then, they will be forgotten for the most part until another major regional or world competition rolls around.

They deserve much more. At all of the sports forums organized locally, they should be represented.

They ought not be the silent members of the national sports fraternity. All and sundry should make certain they remain highly visible throughout the year. If there is a greater focus on Special Olympics Bahamas, the representative teams, going forward, would do much more to enhance The Bahamas’ sports brand.

It was 51 years ago, in 1968, when Special Olympics Bahamas was officially established. We were there from the very beginning, when that great humanitarian of the famed Kennedy Clan, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, and associates, framed the international Special Olympics constitution. The global outreach to pay homage and provide competitive platforms for intellectually-hampered athletes, thus became entrenched.

The mandate of Special Olympics is for national bodies to organize and coordinate year-round training and competitions for their athletes. In The Bahamas, the leaders of the program, through the years, have worked hard to give the local athletes a mainstream profile. They fall short, all the time, in their efforts to provide more revenue for the development process of the “special” athletes.

It is for such reasons, why I continue to lobby central administrations to allocate much more money in the National Budget than they do, to sports in general.

Again, I make the plea as well for sports to be a single ministry. Those of the national sports family are the greatest positive image boosters for the country.

Accordingly, I submit that Special Olympics Bahamas and all Bahamian sports are indeed entitled to the fullest commitment from our governments, financially and otherwise.

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

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