Old philosophy, more dedication to scrutiny in sports by minister

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 philosophy that is to guide the Ministry of Youth, Sports, and Culture collectively, is transparency and an adherence to the conditions by which financial assistance is given, sports infrastructure is put in place and maintained, the subvention program is operated, and quasi-government sports entities and independent federations/associations are supported.

Somewhere along the way, the general doctrine by which the sports ministry functioned, got blurred.

There is no wish here to point a finger at those who had responsibility for the sports ministry in the past. It is a fact that rather than subscribing to the template monitored by directors Winston Cooper, Martin Lundy, interim director Kevin Colebrook and now Tim Munnings, the system often operated in a random fashion.

Sports leaders clamored for financial assistance and failed to provide annual plans. Upon receiving financial grants, they never saw the need, most of them anyhow, to provide financial reports verifying that the spending was done for exactly what it was intended.

Yet the ministry continued, despite the abnormal culture, to provide funds. Sports infrastructure deteriorated, throughout the country, with little or no accountability, whatsoever, in some cases.

The subvention program has not always been coordinated via the rules put in place to control the movement of money from the Treasury to personal accounts and to ensure at all times, such payments were deserved. The reality is that subvention payments have been made through the years to athletes who were not justifying the gesture by their performances.

Federations/associations take a steady path to the sports ministry, requesting funds and even additional financial assistance, but hold strong to their independence and have been accused and indeed been guilty of ostracizing the hand that fed them.

Put mildly, the sports ministry has not had the kind of relationship with partners within the sports fraternity, that fostered maximum achievements of The Bahamas’ sports brand. I have always said that the buck stopped with the Ministry of Youth, Sports, and Culture.

While the ministry has absolutely no jurisdiction over the day-to-day business of federations, the leverage of being a financial supplier, should be used to enforce certain conditions. For instance, if a federation/association refuses to, or is unable to present a financial report that reconciles the previous grant, it should not be provided with another until there is full compliance.

Perhaps a new day has dawned. Recently, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Lanisha Rolle and associates conducted a series of meetings with administrative partners within the fraternity, and the view here, is that she laid it on the line, respectfully so, but firmly nevertheless.

Does she have the mettle to change the culture and bring everybody in line with what is appropriate and best for the enhancement of the national sports brand? She claims to be serious and set on her course.

I came away with a good feeling. For sure, there will be those, not accustomed to having to toe the line on methods that create a transparent culture. If they meet a formidable Minister Rolle at every turn, the system will change and revert to what it always ought to have been.

When the late Father of the Nation, Sir Lynden Pindling decided that sports would have its own ministry in 1977, he seemingly had a vision of how the brand would expand in the subsequent years. The sports ministry is imperative and it has the appropriate structure. Nothing needs to be re-invented. The template is excellent.

What would be ideal is for there to be a sports minister who is prepared to bite the bullet and insist that the principles that guide the process are upheld.

Hopefully Minister Rolle will hold steady to the course of compliance and progress for the sports ministry. The old philosophy for the sports ministry is still good. There just needs to be greater scrutiny.

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

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