Government obligated to do better for sports

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.

I read with great interest Nassau Guardian Sports Editor Sheldon Longley’s article that provided comments from Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis regarding a greater financial focus for the national sports program.

The big question that rests with me is whether or not the prime minister did what politicians are known to do: offer good-sounding words in the moment, with no intent for meaningful follow-ups.

“The government truly is committed to sports. Sports is very important because not only does it enhance discipline, but it also enhances leadership. In our society, discipline is one of the important things that you need, and from that comes great leaders. To be a successful athlete, you have to be disciplined, focused and determined.

“I would hope that we could do more (for our athletes). The Bahamian people must understand that we spend millions of dollars in tourism to market The Bahamas. Individuals like Shaunae [Miller] and others are exposing The Bahamas to millions and billions of people. That in itself is 10 to 20 times more than the tourism budget,” the prime minister was quoted as saying.

Sometimes, the prime minister is so very convoluted when he speaks. He seems to contradict himself, and there are occasions when he is difficult to follow.

What I got from his comments, though, is that our awesome sports ambassadors like Shaunae Miller-Uibo, Donald Thomas, Jonquel Jones, Chavano “Buddy” Hield, Waltiea Rolle and Joanna Evans, of this present time; Golden Girls (Pauline Davis-Thompson, Chandra Sturrup, Eldece Clarke, Savetheda Fynes and Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie); Mark Knowles; Tonique Williams and Chris Brown, of a just past era; and Sir Durward Knowles, Sloane Farrington Cecil Cooke, Bobby Symonette, Tommy Robinson, Elisha Obed, Gomeo Brennan, Mychal Thompson and Yama Bahama, of an earlier era, are of a higher value, 10 to 20 times more than what we get from the tourism budget.

I wholeheartedly support that position. I have emphasized that reality in this space on many occasions.

If Minnis is a believer of what he has said, then upping the annual national budget allocation for sports development ought to be automatic for him. Other prime ministers before Minnis never made that declaration.

Long-time prime minister the late Sir Lynden Pindling demonstrated his high regard for sports by establishing a ministry for the same, in 1977. His successors have not done justice to the national sports program, financially.

Now this prime minister makes an excellent comparison between the quality exposure the country gets from our elite athletes and the tourism budget. Hopefully he will act accordingly. The time is near indeed when Minnis and his Cabinet will have to begin crunching the numbers to craft the 2019-2020 national budget. If Minnis is true to his belief, greater funding is to come for the 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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