For decades, American Football in the country was stuck in a tug-o-war battle, regarding just which organization owned “international recognition” status.
The now seemingly defunct Bahamas American Football Federation (BAFF) seized the opportunity a little over 10 years ago to become the official member representing The Bahamas at the table of the International Federation of American Football (IFAF).
Meanwhile of course, those associated with the founding American Football entity in the country, steamed and documented their opposition to the authority upon which BAFF operated. Indeed, the Commonwealth American Football League that evolved out of the first organized group emphasized its disagreement and disgust, nationally and internationally.
The CAFL was on a shaky wicket (internationally) at best though, once the IFAF remained intent to honor its member body, BAFF, as the prime organization in the country for the sport. Based on the international sports code, there was little that the CAFL could do. In this space, on numerous occasions, I pointed out that reality.
As fate would have it though, IFAF became fractured, and BAFF, according to all indications, threw its full support behind one of the factions. Unfortunately for BAFF, its IFAF associates functioned in a manner that was considered quite disdainful to the country and some Bahamians in particular, who were connected to the ill-fated World Flag Football Championships that was proposed for Grand Bahama late last year.
At the height of the controversy, Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe convened a meeting of top American Football affiliates in the country. At that time, the CAFL, headed by Tony Maycock, took a position that exemplified it in my view, a matured national outlook. The CAFL declared that it would not support the hosting of an international event that was rushed and destined to cause the country embarrassment.
It was a sound decision and at the same time, opened the situation to a compromise. Alas, the IFAF faction that was linked to BAFF was determined to force a certain time frame upon the sport and the country.
Therefore, BAFF became the Bahamian element of American Football in the country, on the outside looking in.
As the situation played out, of course, the international event did not take place, and The Bahamas was able to retain its tremendous reputation as a host country.
So, here at the commencement of 2017 we stand and the CAFL is well positioned to take the sport of American Football into a new and immensely progressive era. The relationship the Ministry of Tourism, through Minister Wilchcombe, has forged with the Miami Dolphins and the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl, collectively forms a most inspiring backdrop for the CAFL.
It is time for the CAFL to assume a greater overall business concept. The thousands of young males and females who play flag football, the organized tackle football action in several islands, and the multitude of the Bahamian youth communities with aspirations directly related to participation in the sport, send a resounding and encouraging message to Maycock and company.
That message, simply put is: “Maximize the present situation for American Football in The Bahamas.”
Best wishes to the CAFL fraternity and certainly, to other sports groupings for the year of 2017 and beyond.
(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at firstname.lastname@example.org).
Published Tuesday, January 3, 2017