Bahamas Aquatics Federation (BAF) President Algernon Cargill has responded to allegations that surfaced yesterday that took shots at his administration, and ultimately the government of The Bahamas, on the shortfall of the under-18 (U18) boys national water polo squad that took part in the 28th Central American and Caribbean Amateur Swimming Confederation (CCCAN) Water Polo Championships in Wildey, Christ Church, Barbados, over the weekend.
The team qualified for the gold medal match, but because of a lack of funds were unable to stay an extra night in order to play. The gold medal match was played Sunday evening, and the team left Barbados early Sunday morning. They were awarded with the bronze medal for their efforts.
“The story is false and malicious. Water polo parents made their own travel plans and obviously erred in planning. To blame anyone other than themselves is irresponsible,” said Cargill from Gwangju, South Korea, yesterday – the site of the 18th FINA (International Swimming Federation) World Aquatics Championships. “Bahamas Aquatics made a decision jointly with our water polo leaders to bypass CCCAN Water Polo and focus our limited funding on Pan Am Juniors that will cost $40,000 plus. At the last minute, the parents agreed they wanted their children to go to CCCAN and undertook to raise the required funding and would make their own travel plans. Yes, we did seek financial support from many quarters and while these were largely unsuccessful, it had absolutely nothing to do with the travel plans for CCCAN Water Polo. To now blame the government or Bahamas Aquatics is irresponsible, reckless and malicious.”
Cargill said even though CCCAN wasn’t a priority, they still went ahead and contributed $4,000 toward the team’s travel to Barbados, but was not involved in any planning nor the purchase of any airline tickets.
In a statement, perhaps prematurely, Opposition Spokesman for Youth and Sports Picewell Forbes blasted the government yesterday.
“It has been brought to the attention of the PLP (Progressive Liberal Party) that the reason The Bahamas’ U18 boys water polo team withdrew from the gold medal game at the 28th CCCAN Championships this weekend in Wildey, Christ Church, Barbados was due to insufficient funding to spend an additional night in Barbados to play in the gold medal game. Our boys had to settle for the bronze medal. This kind of neglect would never happen under a PLP government,” he said. “This is disgraceful when you have a FNM (Free National Movement) government that can literally find millions of dollars for international travel with bloated delegations, on campaigning in the Family Islands and on food for the Office of the Prime Minister. The PLP has repeatedly accused the FNM of abandoning our athletes and not having a plan for local sports development. This debacle in Barbados over this past weekend is proof of this abandonment. This government’s neglect of our athletes is a total disgrace.”
According to Cargill, it was never the intent of the federation to send the team to the CCCAN Championships. He said all efforts were geared toward the 2019 UANA (Swimming Union of the Americas) Pan American Youth Water Polo Championships, from August 14-24, in Balmain, Couva, Trinidad and Tobago. The Bahamas is expected to be represented by a 17-and-under team at those championships.
Be that as it may, with the bronze in Barbados this past weekend, the team now qualifies for the 2020 UANA Pan American Youth Water Polo Championships which will take place in Edmonton, Canada. The Bahamas will take part in the 19-and-under division at those championships.
At CCCAN this past weekend, Puerto Rico ended up defeating Barbados for the gold medal, 14-8. They also defeated The Bahamas easily, on two occasions, during the round-robin segment of the championships – 20-8 on Friday and 16-8 on Saturday.
In two games against the host nation Barbados, The Bahamas won each time, 12-9 on Thursday and 20-12 on Friday.
Team Head Coach Laszlo “Coach Lotty” Borbely said that it was disappointing that they were unable to play in the gold medal match.
“The players learnt that they could not stay for the entire time because of a shortage of money. They feel very disappointed. When you are playing and you know that you are not going to be in the final no matter what you do it affects you,” he said.
Be that as it may, the team is still scheduled to play in this year’s Pan American Youth Water Polo Championships, and has qualified for next year’s event as well.
As for Cargill, he is representing The Bahamas at talks and meetings prior to the staging of the FINA World Aquatics Championships. The championships, the biggest and most prestigious athletics competition in the world outside of the Olympics, will get underway this Friday and run through July 28. The swim portion of the meet will be held at the Nambu University Municipal Aquatics Centre in Gwangju, and The Bahamas will be represented by a four-member team – Joanna Evans, Albury Higgs, Izaak Bastian and Jared Fitzgerald.
Cargill will also represent The Bahamas at the FINA General Congress, which is set for July 19 in Gwangju.
Education: College of The Bahamas, Associates in Accounting