Back in 2016, after more than 10 years of a national conflict between the Commonwealth American Football League (CAFL) and the now defunct Bahamas American Football Federation (BAFF), the former was declared the parent body for the sport.
This development officially came about with the then Minister of Tourism, Obie Wilchcombe, being the catalyst, working closely with the Ministry of Sports and securing the endorsement of the vast majority of the sporting power brokers in the country.
It was therefore ordained that the CAFL, led then, and now, by Antonio Maycock would be the governing body for all aspects of American Football in The Bahamas, going forward. The situation differs from the sports disciplines that are controlled by international bodies, e.g. boxing, basketball, athletics, swimming, volleyball, cycling, soccer, etc.
The International Federation of American Football (IFAF) had its own infighting going on, with a splinter group supporting BAFF and the faction considered to be more substantive, interacting with the CAFL. Ultimately with overwhelming CAFL support demonstrated locally, BAFF phased out. The CAFL was the organization left standing and thus obligated to insist upon and maintain protocol within the national American Football fraternity, inclusive of the touch and flag elements of the sport.
It has come to pass though, that in Grand Bahama, the long-standing and proactive flag football organization led by Craig Smith is being challenged. Smith heads the Grand Bahama Flag Football League (GBFFL) and he laments the fact that, the Air-It-Out Four-On-Four Flag Football League has come on stream to compete for sponsors, popularity and otherwise.
“I welcome the growth of the sport. However, we (GBFFL collectively) are the established member of the CAFL and ought to be involved in any development of football on this island. I spoke with the CAFL President Maycock and told him of the situation. I expected the matter to be handled and for the CAFL to make sure of the protocol with its member body, us. Apparently, this has not happened because I looked in The Freeport News the other day and saw this big story about a new league and we know nothing about that.
“This is not good for the sport here in Grand Bahama. We have to be able to work together to make flag football grow as best as it can on our island. It is for the CAFL to control these things and not allow the kind of encroachment that could hurt the sport. It hurts us when different parties are going to the same sponsors for one sport. Everything to do with marketing and sponsorships should be done with one accord. I don’t like this. We respect the parent body status of the CAFL and have always supported Maycock and his colleagues. I feel that the CAFL is not doing what it ought to do as the body in charge of the sport in the nation,” said a disappointed Smith.
Ironically, just like that, in a flash, it looks like the sport of American Football could be headed for another disturbing round of controversy.
Maycock once called BAFF a “rogue” organization, mainly because it sought to function locally and make contact internationally without connecting with the CAFL and ensuring a common ground.
Well, it appears that the situation has come full circle for Maycock and company. The CAFL has the authority to resolve the situation in Grand Bahama before it gets totally out of hand. Craig Smith, the godfather of flag football in Grand Bahama is upset.
Maycock is challenged to get to the bottom of the issue.
•To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at firstname.lastname@example.org or on WhatsApp at 772-6363.