BOC steps up to plate with salute to Shaunae Miller-Uibo

Sports Scope is currently on vacation for the Christmas season and will return in the new year. During this time, The Nassau Guardian will feature a few Sports Scope columns from the past.

The present central administration is in a cut-back mode, financially. Across the board, budgets in government departments have been sliced. There are times when salaries are not in place when government employees seek to attend to their usually monthly banking.

Perhaps, more than in the case of any other segment of Bahamian life, the national sporting fraternity has borne the brunt of the tightening of the belt by Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis and his Free National Movement (FNM) Government.

The largest product that was within The Bahamas’ sports brand, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Relays event, was pushed aside. The payment of subventions to elite athletes was obviously not a priority recently, because the scheduled funding was months past due before that situation was rectified.

In essence, there clearly is a need for national sports leadership to come from elsewhere. Into the breach has stepped the Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC). The evidence of the BOC’s willingness to take a lead role and prioritize key aspects to boost The Bahamas’ sports brand came recently.

With actually, very short notice, the BOC responded in big-time fashion to the parents of Shaunae Miller-Uibo and organizers of her “salute” affair, staged at the Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association’s (BLTA) National Tennis Centre in New Providence. Incidentally, I point out, having being told by BOC Secretary General Derron Donaldson that in conjunction with organizer Adrian Francis, the tennis center was the best, reasonable option, because the fee charged by the National Sports Authority (NSA) was “too high” for use of the foyer in the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium.

Prior to the support for the event’s hosting venue, it was the BOC that organized and covered the cost for the airport welcoming of the world’s leading 200 meters and 400 meters (m) female runner when she and her husband Maicel Uibo, of Estonia, arrived at the Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA). The BOC provided the luxury transportation service and ensured that ‘Queen Shaunae’ was treated appropriately.

It is important to note that two former sports ministers demonstrated their appreciation to the nation’s leading sports ambassador. The now Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources Michael Pintard entertained Miller-Uibo when she paid him a courtesy visit following her arrival. Then, at the salute event at the tennis center, Pintard’s predecessor Dr. Daniel Johnson was on hand. It was befitting, that they saw the importance of engaging with Miller-Uibo.

In general, though, it was the BOC that came through handsomely and has now set the bar quite high in terms of how our athletes and the stalwarts of sports programs ought to be accommodated.

BOC President Romell Knowles, I understand, had some strong words at the tennis center for those who did not see the relevance of being present. The suggestion to him is to simply move beyond what he deduces as disrespect or a lack of concern in others, and, lead his colleagues in playing out the role of being the catalyst for projecting national sports development and functioning as the caretaker of The Bahamas’ sports brand.

I submit that it now behooves the BOC to take another look at its national obligation to sports development, as mandated by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and craft a template that enables it to successfully respond to the body of work it is now confronted with, seeing that for any number of reasons, the government has, seemingly, diluted its national sports program.

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

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