Successive governments failed at National Sports Academy

Sports Scope will have new publications on Mondays and Thursdays until Fred Sturrup, who lives in Freeport, Grand Bahama, and was affected by the passing of Hurricane Dorian, operates at full power. On the other days, file columns will be used until further notice.

Rev. Anthony Williams, the athletics coach from the lowly community of Moore’s Island in the Abacos, has succeeded where successive governments have failed.

For more than a decade now, Coach Williams has been accommodating young boys of Moore’s Island in housing, classroom work and training in athletics. He has spawned national championship junior relay teams, productive squads which compete abroad, and last but not least, he discovered, nurtured and was responsible for the early development of one of the greatest 400 meters (m) runners the world has even seen.

I speak of Steven Gardiner, the reigning world champion for the event and the sixth best over the distance, in history (43.48). Coach Williams established a sports academy that has housed as many as 12 young boys at a time. He has a small model, but an excellent template. Not only have previous central administrations, through the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, fallen down in providing the appropriate assistance to enable Coach Williams to groom a few more like Gardiner, his knowledge has not been tapped into.

Here is a proven entity. Yet, we don’t make ample use of him, our very own home-grown mentor supreme of athletes. Two sports ministers have flirted with a proposed National Sports Academy project, but, could not get to the final product.

This is so despite, not only having Coach Williams to lean on, but benefiting from a detailed close-up tour of the national sports program in Cuba.

Sadly, here we are some eight years down the road since former Prime Minister Perry Christie endorsed the establishment of a National Sports Academy, with nothing to show. Efforts have been disbanded and the current Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Lanisha Rolle met nothing substantive in place to propel the proposed project.

However, the prospect of a National Sports Academy hangs out there. It is essential to the further development of the country’s sports brand. Coach Williams has done it. He is still doing it. He has persevered despite not being able to call on the government for assistance to a most worthy cause.

If a single individual like Coach Williams, against all financial odds, could craft a small, but meaningful sports academy, why can’t the central government throw some resources the sports ministry’s way for the express purpose of getting a national sports academy off the ground? This is a reasonable outlook.

If a central government wants to finally show that there is indeed a high level of interest in national sports development, the national sports academy should be a prime agenda item.

With controversies swirling around within the national sports family, and unsettled relationships prevailing, the national sports academy is just what the doctor has ordered.

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

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