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Sands bids for NACAC presidency; Arnett to announce at NACAC Championships

Mike Sands, former sprinter and president of the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA), will be looking to create history in a bid to become the president of the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC). The NACAC Congress wraps up today and the election of officers will follow, prior to the start of the NACAC Under-18 (U18) and Under-23 (U23) Championships in Santiago de Querétaro, Mexico.

If successful, Sands will be the first Bahamian to represent the country in that capacity at the regional level. No Bahamian has even ever ran for president at this level. Sands is no stranger to track and field in the region, having briefly served as vice president before being forced to step down after Pauline Davis-Thompson ascended to the office of IAAF Council member, as two persons from the same jurisdiction cannot sit on the NACAC board at the same time. With Davis-Thompson having served for 12 years on the IAAF Council, the executive board of the BAAA has approved the application for the NACAC presidency of Sands.

Also heading to Mexico and making history for The Bahamas will be Philippa Arnett-Willie, regarded as the “voice of track and field” in The Bahamas. She will be co-hosting in the announcer’s booth at the NACAC U-18 and U-23 Championships, next to Kareem Streete-Thompson, a former Caymanian athlete.

Arnett-Willie has worked at big meets at home but never outside of The Bahamas. She made her announcing debut at the International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF) World Relays in 2015, and also called the 2018 CARIFTA Games.

As for Sands, he is up against four other candidates, hailing from Mexico, Haiti, Jamaica and Trinidad. There are 31 delegates, representing the member bodies of NACAC, who are eligible to vote.

Sands is confident that if the members vote on what the candidates have to offer, he will win.

“The challenge is that you have to look at the candidates and what they have to offer because their experience is vital, and their choice ought to be decided based on that. If we look at it from that perspective, I am very confident that once the voting members compare and look at the candidates, we will see that my record of performance speaks for itself,” Sands said.

The NACAC region is considered the most successful athletic community out of the six areas of the IAAF, the world’s governing body for athletics, generating the largest medal count at both the world championships and the Olympic Games on a regular basis. It is arguably the most respected athletic region in the world.

With the NACAC being such a vast region, Sands admits that campaigning was quite costly. He is grateful for the persons who stepped up and helped to fund his campaign that required his personal funds as well. He looks at it as something that is worth fighting for, and remains focussed on the prize.

Sands is aware of the challenges of member federations, such as the Central Americans feeling disenfranchised.

“It is really Central America versus South America. Central America includes Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Belize. In my discussion with them, they have expressed a feeling of a level of disenfranchisement or not getting equity in relationship to what they ought to be getting. That is a challenge that ought to be addressed,” Sands said.

The former president of the BAAA said that if he wins, he will not be the first English-speaking president of NACAC. He highlighted Jamaica’s Neville “Teddy” McCook who served as president from 2007-2013.

If Sands wins, he will automatically be appointed to the IAAF’s executive board.

For Arnett-Willie, she said she was surprised when she got the invitation.

“I am very excited for the opportunity. It is the first time that I will be announcing internationally and I am looking forward to it,” Arnett-Willie said.

Her journey began five years ago when she attended a seminar staged by the Star Trackers Club and the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture. The seminar was conducted by Michael Jules from Barbados.

Arnett-Willie possesses a popular voice that spectators, officials, coaches and athletes at local track club meets have become accustomed to. She keeps all attendees aware of what’s happening at the respective meets.

“Every time that I hold the mic, even here, I try to practice articulation, learning the sport better and learning the disciplines better. I did track, and I did long jump but not at a professional level. This opportunity through announcing, even practicing and performing at the meets here, has given me the opportunity to learn the disciplines, the implements, the tactics, rules and even what the coaches are doing on the side. All of that has given me great preparation for this moment,” Arnett-Willie said.

She said she did not make the announcing roster for this year’s CARIFTA Games in the Cayman Islands because the slots were already filled. This regional event is a great consolation prize, she said.

Arnett-Willie added that she will not forget her humble beginnings here in The Bahamas. She said  she will take her announcing career one day at a time instead of jumping ahead of herself.

Both Sands and Arnett-Willie have an opportunity to open doors for other Bahamians. Regardless, they said they will represent the aquamarine, gold and black proudly in Mexico.

Simba French

Sports Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Simba joined The Nassau Guardian in 2012 as a technical producer for Guardian Radio 96.9 FM. He joined the Editorial Department as a sports reporter in 2018. Simba has covered a wide range of sports stories, including the 2018 CARIFTA in Nassau, Bahamas.
Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism

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