Greatly increased budget ideal New Year sports gift

VALENTINE GRIMES

The national sports fraternity could well do with a nice gift from the Government of The Bahamas in its New Year considerations.

No doubt, Minister of Finance, K. Peter Turnquest has already started crunching the numbers as he gears for the mid-year presentation of the national budget. He will of course have discussions with his ministry associates and Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis. The finance chief will seek to lead an effort, when finalized, that is palatable to the Bahamian people.

For many years, now, the annual allocation for sports development and activities has left a sour taste in the mouths of sports leaders. It has been abundantly clear that while the politicians scramble for positions at photo opportunities when our sporting ambassadors enhance the image of the country, they have a shallow understanding of the need for much better funding for the best image-enhancing product in the country, sports.

Either that, or they are simply disdainful, and expect the ambassadors of sports to continue their yeoman work, despite being always at a great disadvantage when combating their world peers. It just seems that generally, our respective political directorates, over the last quarter of a century, have not moved with the times and recognized, as have their counterparts throughout the world, the high significance of sports to a country.

Recently a former prominent front-line politician, who served in several administrations of the Father of the Nation, Sir Lynden Pindling, decried the unfair, insensitive and silly treatment of the sporting fraternity in this country during the terms of “successive governments.”

Reference is to Valentine Grimes, who climbed to success as an adult, on the back of his involvement in sports, as a competitor and advisor. Quite frankly, I see Grimes’s expressions as rather late in the game. Grimes and others who benefited, even more than he did, from sports did not push the national product sufficiently when they were in power.

Nevertheless, he brings voice to the issue now, and I applaud him for that. Perhaps he will lead a movement that properly sensitizes all political leaders and enables them to conclude that the national sports development product should be at the top of the budget allocations, in league with tourism, health care and education.

Certainly, sports should be a singular ministry. It is that important.

Following is a portion of Grimes’ communication to me last week:

“It was very kind of you to make reference to me in Sports Scope this morning. I am very cognizant of how important sports was to me as a youngster growing up in West and Augusta Streets.

“I have always said that I learned more about the responsibilities of leadership, on the basketball court and on the softball diamond than I learnt anywhere else. It was my pleasure and joy to have played competitive basketball, fastpitch softball, American Football, and to run track, and, this led me to better understand the importance of sports to the development of our young people. Regrettably, I am deeply saddened how successive governments (I repeat successive governments) have continuously failed to properly invest in our youngsters, by ensuring that as a country we pay greater attention to properly and more efficiently providing better sporting facilities, along with having organized sports instructors/coaches to continuously supervise our young people.

“I am satisfied that if we had made this type of ‘investment’ in our young people we would not be in the dilemma that we find our country in today. It would appear that far too many things are seen through a political spectrum and that “we support” programs based not on what benefits our people accrue from it, but rather on which political party initially ‘introduced’ the program. This is a sad commentary.”

So, said Grimes.

Hopefully, other noted politicians, who failed to do justice to sports when they were in control, will follow Grimes and come forward in the interest of empowering the national sports landscape, financially.

(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at sturrup1504@gmail.com or on WhatsApp at 727-6363).

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