Wide body of government’s sports funding responsibility overlooked

FROM LEFT DESMOND BANNISTER, Former Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Byron Woodside, Former Minister of State for Sports and Lanisha Rolle, Minister of Youth Sports and Culture

I have long advocated for additional sports funding from the Government of The Bahamas. The national sports commodity has tremendous potential and it is the responsibility of our governments to foster the advancement of this special product.

So, when I see the insensitive approach to sports, based on the present government’s national budget allocation, it is quite bothersome. Let me hasten to point out that the insensitivity referred to, is associated only with this particular version of Free National Movement government.

Personal knowledge dictates that I point out that Desmond Bannister and Byron Woodside, as point ministers in sports for previous FNM administrations, were right on top of national sporting needs. They did their best to find funds to address the national sports fraternity, comprehensively.

I especially remember Bannister as minister, fully recognizing the importance of the national sports product, in particular from a regional and international perspective. He ensured the hosting of the Caribbean Sports Icons Awards (CASI), that I coordinated back in 2009. It was a major regional event that showcased the best of the Caribbean, inclusive of Bahamians who were honored on that night; and helped with the development of The Bahamas as a mighty sports host nation.

Before Bannister, in the first FNM administrations, there was a mindset that led to the valuable subvention program and an advanced system of annual grants to federations. So, it is important that the FNM’s history of attention to sports is not characterized by what is presently going on.

However, the attitude of such as Bannister, Woodside; and from across the political divide, former sports ministers Neville Wisdom, Dr. Norman Gay, Peter Bethel; clearly indicated an understanding of the wide body of national sports funding governments are obligated to.

There are independent sporting stalwarts who drive meaningful initiatives that help greatly with nation building by fostering education and sports growth in young Bahamians. Through the years, the Ministry of Sports; and in an earlier era, the Sports Department of the Ministry of Education, have advanced funding annually for independent tournaments and other events, as well.

It is indeed, a large area of sports assistance required of the government. Leaders of federations should be mindful of this situation. The point being made is that there are many funding expectations in each given year, that governments ought to address readily. It’s not all about the federations and their financial needs. There is a much broader mix.

The suggestion to the present Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Lanisha Rolle, as she goes through the present storm, is to give full clarity to the true government role in sports funding and to bring about balance and transparency, across the board, none within the national sports fraternity excluded.

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

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