Minister: ‘$50,000 was sufficient’

DOHA, Qatar – There was a huge uproar regarding Team Bahamas, and the funds that were necessary to get the nine-member team to Doha, Qatar for the 17th International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF) World Championships prior to travel, but Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Lanisha Rolle said she believes the $50,000 provided was sufficient.

However, it wasn’t even half of what was requested by the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) The BAAA submitted a budget of $116,000 from February of this year and were just notified of the intended shortfall two weeks before the scheduled travel date. The 10-day long 17th biennial championships wrapped up on Sunday inside the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha.

Initially, the ministry pledged $25,000, and then fast tracked another $25,000 as the BAAA’s grant for the 2019-2020 fiscal period.

Minister Rolle said given the current financial situation of the country, and the size of the team, she feels the $50,000 was sufficient, making no apologies for what the BAAA deemed a slap in the face.

“Based on the availability of funds before us and based on the number of athletes who were participating, I believe that $50,000 was sufficient,” said the minister. “Keep in mind that there is assistance from the IAAF as well, and coming here, that’s what we are here for – to assist. We are not here to fully do everything, and in reality, we are unable to. We will continue to assist because that is the mandate of the Government of The Bahamas and our national sports policy. I am here to comply with that on behalf of the ministry and the government as a whole.”

BAAA President Drumeco Archer said his organization was left handicapped, forced to call on the Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC) and private entities for assistance. Somehow, they managed to get the nine-member team and team officials here to Doha, but according to reports all is not well between the BAAA and the ministry. Archer said that the relationship has been strained, while the minister assures a cordial working relationship going forward.

“The relationship between the ministry and the BAAA, and all other sporting federations, are continuous,” she said. “There have been strong relations before my time and there will be strong relations after my time. In relationships, there are going to be good times and there are going to be challenging times. At the end of the day, we have no doubt that the relationship will get stronger as we strengthen this bond together in the best interest of sport and in the best interest of the development of our country. As a result of that our country will continue to grow by leaps and bounds.”

In meeting with some of the athletes of Team Bahamas during the world championships in Doha, the minister said that a number of topics were addressed and she assured the athletes that the ministry has the best interest of the athletes at heart going forward. She said that the meeting went well and the athletes were motivated.

“I told them that they have a record of greatness and they have the support of The Bahamas Government and the Bahamian people,” she said. “On behalf of the Government of the Bahamas, we want to say to the athletes that we are here for you, we encourage you in every way and we expect greatness.”

Team Bahamas ‘ Head Coach Fritz Grant said that it was a very constructive and cordial meeting.

“The athletes were able to express their views on certain situations, and the minister did a great job in explaining her ministry and her role,” said Grant. “The meeting brought a lot of clarification in terms of what she expects as it relates to protocol and the business of sports. She expressed the support that she has for track and field, and by extension, all sports in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. It was very informative, and coming out of it, I believe that we are all united as one. I believe the athletes are comfortable and interaction like this could only serve to motivate them to perform to their best of their abilities.”

One of those athletes in the meeting, female sprinter Anthonique Strachan said that they didn’t get all of the answers that they wanted but she appreciated the minister reaching out to them and explaining certain matters.

The minister, who left Qatar last Tuesday, prior to Shaunae Miller-Uibo’s and Steven Gardiner’s medal-winning races, also cleared up any matters surrounding the government’s delegation to the world championships. It was reported that the delegation was as large as nine, thereby matching the size of Team Bahamas, and also that their expenses would have exceeded that of Team Bahamas.

Minister Rolle said that was never the case. She said the team of officers included herself, the National Director of Sports Timothy Munnings and two other officers from the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture.

As mentioned, she left Doha last Tuesday, prior to Miller-Uibo and Gardiner’s races, and Munnings departed on Thursday. Therefore, no government official was present in Doha to congratulate either Miller-Uibo or Gardiner on their accomplishments.

It remains to be seen if the government’s remuneration program will come into effect once the athletes settle in back home in The Bahamas, or to their final destinations, and also, if any celebration will be held in their honor.

Team Bahamas left Doha today, traveling to various destinations.

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Sheldon Longley

Sheldon Longley joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2001 as a sports reporter. He was promoted to sports editor in 2008. Sheldon has an extensive background in sports reporting. He covered three Olympic Games and three world championships, along with multiple smaller regional and local games.

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