National budget hike for sports essential

The appeal goes forth once again from this forum for the government of The Bahamas to pay more attention to national sports development.

Let me emphasize that this column is absolutely not an attempt to criticize our central administration. Quite frankly, in my view, when one examines closely the make-up of the Cabinet of The Bahamas, the memberships of the House of Assembly and the higher chamber – the Senate, at this period in the country’s history, this is the least sports-affluent group.

Ministry of Works Parliamentary Secretary and Member of Parliament for Central Grand Bahama Iram Lewis, Minister of Transport and Bamboo Town Constituency Member of Parliament Renward Wells, Minister of Public Works and Carmichael Constituency Member of Parliament Desmond Bannister, Senator Jenny Isaacs-Dotson and Senate President Kay Smith don’t flavor the general mix in the political arena all that much.

So, it can’t be realistically expected that sports would be a primary item for the government. Perhaps those aforementioned could do more to sensitize their colleagues to the significance of sports, particularly in our society today.

Nevertheless, it is imperative that the sports stakeholders in the land join hands to lobby for the government to have a greater financial focus on sports development. One wonders if during high level meetings with investors, for instance, Heads of Agreements (HOA) discussions, how often sports development is placed on the table by our negotiators.

Certainly, prospective investors should be made familiar with the dependence of this country on the quality development of its youth through sports, education and culture. Accordingly, provisions ought to always be made in formal HOAs, for sports, education and culture to benefit.

Unfortunately, those who sit around the table most often on behalf of the Bahamian people are not inclined to bring sports into the picture. For example, are Lewis, Wells and Bannister on the inside circle of top negotiations for the government? If so, how regularly?

Well, surely their suggestions are requested by Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis and Minister of Finance K. Peter Turnquest whenever the time comes to begin crunching the numbers to prepare the national budgets.

No doubt the present finance chief in the nation, and his associates, need to be briefed on the importance of sports in the land. I just seek today, to provide food for thought for the powers that be.

Lewis, Wells and Bannister could lead with some inside-government lobbying.

Those three know full well that they climbed on the back of sports to reach where they are today. They understand the value of sports, the wholesome options sporting programs present, the many life-positive qualities such as team work, independence, attentiveness and the desire to excel, that are heightened by sports involvement.

Lewis and Wells have two of the finest sprint resumes in the country’s sporting history. Lewis is a former president of the Grand Bahama Amateur Athletic Association (GBAAA). Wells was, for many years, the co-100 meters (m) national record holder. His daughter Sasha is one of our finest young track stars, a hurdling wizard. Bannister is a former president of the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA).

The major point I wish to make is that a national budget hike for sports is indeed essential.

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

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