Funding for sports, a high priority issue

The government has expended a lot of the taxpayers’ funds to accommodate international events such as the World Relays. Above, members of the Bahamas Mixed Relay gold medal winning team at the Third IAAF World Relays, are pictured.

Quasi-government sports organizations and federations went through lean stages in recent years, because funding was advanced, only at irregular intervals. I have been informed that one core sports organization has had to alter its development program greatly because the usual grant from the government through the Ministry of Sports was never received.

There is no doubt that the Progressive Liberal Party Government provided funds in large numbers to accommodate the international sports hosting obligations, such as the recent and the two previous IAAF World Relays. Thus, the government is to be credited.
However, on a national level, sports organizations sometimes had very little to work with.

I think the time is right to make a strong plea for the politicians to think about greatly empowering the national sports family, which is responsible for making The Bahamas attractive to international parent organizations, to the point of being comfortable with their mega events taking place in this country.

Whichever party ends up in governance after May 10, hopefully funding for sports will be a high priority item. The National Sports Academy concept, the brainchild of Prime Minister Perry Christie, is the appropriate vehicle to considerably boost sports development in the land.

In fact, I believe under the umbrella of the National Sports Academy, the first authentic national sports program can be structured. It looks like the template that the present government advocates, is one of establishing sub sports academies in strategic areas of the country, with the main administrative base in New Providence.

The government, if successful on May 10, plans to launch the first phase of the National Sports Academy in September in Moore’s Island, Abaco. I suppose, then, down the road, another launch would take place in Grand Bahama, Eleuthera, Exuma, etc.

Another government, would, for sure, do an overview of what has been planned and done regarding the National Sports Academy thus far. An option too, could be to focus more on sending in support training teams throughout the country to tap into all of the raw talent available.

Whatever the case, it is clear, that if the government in place, seriously considers the value of sports to the country, there ought to be a major adjustment to what is normally allocated for sports on the national front.

In the past, for the most part, successive governments have not tampered too much with the sports package they met in place. That should certainly be the case this time, if the PLP Government loses power. The National Sports Academy, in particular, ought to be given a lot of attention and sports in general should be placed in the high bracket of allocations from the national budget.

(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at sturrup150@gmail.com or on WhatsApp at 727-6363).

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