While I was writing the tribute column, which appeared earlier this week, and showcased Alfred “Ali” Culmer for the tremendous contributions he made to nation building though his softball efforts as a mentor, a certain reality hit me once again.
In highlighting Culmer’s accomplishments, as perhaps the most gigantic producer of quality women’s softball, the thought surfaced that we are long past the era of those who sacrificed mightily to develop others, in particular young boys and girls in need of the guidance.
Today, the top sports mentors, mostly have financial agendas. Indeed, they are paid by parents, guardians, and in many cases, the athletes themselves, for expertise provided. This is the present culture.
A lot has changed since such as the following, took from the budgets of church, home and family, and otherwise often reached into their personal finances to nurture athletes and increase their skill levels.
I refer to the likes of: Fr. Marcian Peters (cricket, track and field, basketball, baseball), Randolph Swaby (basketball), Martin Lundy (track and field, basketball), Colin Knowles (track and field, softball, volleyball, basketball), Lou Adderley (every organized sport), Tom Grant (track and field, volleyball, basketball), Gladstone “Moon” McPhee (baseball, basketball), Charles York Rolle (baseball), Penny Bain (baseball), Leroy “Uncle Lee” Archer (soccer), Sir Cyril Fountain (soccer, swimming), Leonard “Boston Blackie” Miller (boxing, cycling, school sports), Bertram “Bert Perry” Perigord (boxing), Charlie Wright (track and field), Charlie Major Sr. (track and field, boxing, basketball, roller skating), Betty Cole (basketball), Anita Doherty (track and field), Winifred Russell (netball), Cynthia Moxey-Pratt (volleyball, basketball), and Canon Dudley Strachan (track and field).
The aforementioned and others of their ilk, toiled tirelessly for the sake of developing the youth of The Bahamas.
Despite operating under much less sophisticated conditions, with low quality equipment, venues not ideal, and dealing with young boys and girls who came from out of the bowels of poverty, they pushed through with a spirit of collective dedication/passion, unmatched since.
This is by no means, an indictment against those who function now in the mentor role. We have some pretty good managers/coaches/trainers in the mix today and they bring something positive to the Bahamas Sports Brand.
It’s an easier ride for them though. This comparison is easily argued.
I personally lived through the era of sports mentoring and administration when there were no government sports grants; the training facilities were antiquated; competitive sporting attire in shabby condition were all some athletes had; one basketball had to serve for weeks and weeks at a time; a few baseball and softballs had to be made use of for weeks at a time; track and field athletes competed bare foot because they had no appropriate footwear; many athletes travelled for exposure because their parents or guardians could not afford assistance funding.
It was a low-financially affluent era.
Yet, giant mentors produced athletes who laid the very foundation for the Bahamas Sports Brand we know, and, are so proud of today.
Some are living today, while the others have gone on into eternity.
A nation stands forever indebted to them.
(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at email@example.com or on WhatsApp at 727-6363).