Using his own humble beginnings as an example, Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations’ (BAAA) President Drumeco Archer encouraged students at Government High School (GHS) to strive for greatness in everything that they do, particularly by getting involved in sports, and more specifically, track and field.
The BAAA chief is on a mission to engage students across the length and breadth of The Bahamas, building interest for athletics, ahead of next year’s 50th CARIFTA Games which coincides with the 50th Golden Anniversary Independence celebrations of The Bahamas and the 50th anniversary of CARICOM – an intergovernmental organization that is a political and economic union of 15 member states throughout the Caribbean, of which The Bahamas is a member.
Archer told the students this week that he comes from a non-affluent background, growing up on Deveaux Street, and it is through sports, in particular track and field, in which he gained a scholarship to attend university in the United States of America and pursue tertiary level education.
“Every week when we look in the newspapers, we see violence with our young kids, but all of you have an opportunity to be something … something very different,” said Archer. “I have a genuine care and love for young people and young athletes and I want to see all of you excel. Track and field is perhaps the most celebrated sport in the history of The Bahamas and many would agree that it is a sport that has its beginning right here in the Magic City (reference to GHS Magic). More than 30 years ago, it was the likes of Pauline Davis-Thompson, Eldece Clarke and Michael ‘Boy Blue’ Newbold who led the way for the Government High School. Let me tell you, you were the greatest high school in the history of track and field in The Bahamas. You have a legacy to live up to. Today it is about doing more, being more and giving more.”
Archer said he believes that GHS can once again set the standard for track and field by having athletes qualify for next year’s CARIFTA Games and representing The Bahamas here at home.
“Next year is a significant year for the country. It will be the 50th anniversary of our independence and we will also be celebrating 50 years of CARICOM – the coming together of all Caribbean nations. Lastly, it is the 50th anniversary of the CARIFTA Games, and that sporting event will be hosted here in The Bahamas. We certainly intend to do well at home. We are aiming to beat Jamaica,” said Archer. “We are here today to recruit athletes who can qualify for CARIFTA and represent The Bahamas well at the CARIFTA Games. Government High School leads the way. You have a great legacy and it is up to you to continue that greatness. All it takes is looking at yourselves, saying to yourselves that I can be just as great as anyone in the world, and then working toward achieving that greatness.”
Archer said that there are many areas of track and field that the athletes can get involved with.
“Track and field is not only about running the fastest. It is also about jumping the highest and the furthest and throwing the furthest,” said Archer. “Track and field encompasses a gift that is in each and every one of you. I want to see more athletes from Government High School out on the track representing the 242 (The Bahamas), and bring as many of your friends along to join this movement – this movement of excellence. I encourage you to be the best athletes that you can be.”
In reference to Monday’s holiday, Archer said people across the Commonwealth of Nations celebrated 70 years of Queen Elizabeth II on the throne of the British Monarchy and it is her legacy that reminds us that we should be better than we were 70 years ago.
He praised educators at Government High School such as Fritz Grant and Rashad Patton, among other men and women, for raising the standard of sports, particularly athletics, at the institution.
“Only because of God-given talent, I was able to get a scholarship to go off to university. That changed my life. Today, I have a degree in economics and I am also a practicing attorney. What is powerful about sports, is that it changes our lives,” said Archer. “Sports can give you an education, sports can make you a millionaire, and sports can give you opportunities that you might not have had otherwise. I want you to look at yourselves and say ‘I can’. I love this sport of track and field and I love what I do, but I love the athletes more than anything else. You are the ones who wear the aquamarine, black and gold, and you are the ones who will change this country. You are the ones who will become the next leaders and you are the ones who will make this country proud. I want to be able to celebrate with you when we name our CARIFTA team next year, so I have every intention of being back here on a more festive occasion when we could recognize and lift up great athletes from this school who would have qualified and be named to the CARIFTA team. Let’s do it GHS.”
Like himself, Archer said legendary Bahamian actor the late Sidney Poitier also grew up on Deveaux Street and he went on to become one of the most successful and accomplished actors in the world. GHS is just the first stop on a tour throughout the school sector in The Bahamas for the BAAA president, generating interest and hype for athletics leading up to next year’s CARIFTA Games.
The Bahamas is set to host the CARIFTA Games for a record ninth time in 2023 – joining the 1976, 1978, 1981, 1984, 1992, 2002, 2013 and 2018 editions. The last time The Bahamas hosted CARIFTA track and field, in 2018, it finished second to Jamaica with 35 total medals – six gold, 14 silver and 15 bronze. Jamaica won 44 gold medals that year, and added 27 silver and 11 bronze for 82 total medals.
The 50th edition of the CARIFTA Games is set for the Easter holiday weekend in 2023 – April 8-10 at Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium.