Sports neglect of Family Islands a challenge for Minister Pintard
Originally Posted on November 9, 2017 on The Nassau Guardian
The Family Islands have been enduring sports neglect for decades, and some would say, forever.
My visit to Abaco last weekend, conversations I had with Coach Vogel Williams, and other sports mentors, plus the zeal demonstrated by young student-athletes, proved that there is a great yearning for an environment that allows athletic individuals and programs to flourish.
It is the obligation of the Government of The Bahamas through the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture to ensure the existence of a national culture of development, and at the very least, adequate equipment and facilities, that allow those in the island sectors of the national sports fraternity to grow and prosper.
The shabby condition of the one 400 meters (m) track facility in Abaco at the Patrick J. Bethel High School is an indictment against the government. The Government of The Bahamas has the ultimate responsibility for fostering quality development situations for its citizens, in particular the young who require guidance and support the most.
In our system, the sports ministry, quasi government entities such as the National Sports Authority (NSA), the Bahamas Anti-Doping Commission (BADC) and the Bahamas Boxing Commission (BBC) function under the mandate of the Government of The Bahamas. They are to be appropriately fortified for the purpose of fulfilling their respective roles.
All governments ought to recognize that the sporting element is huge in the country and accordingly should be nourished. What’s been happening in the Family Islands and to some degree, in the capital island of New Providence, and sometimes with the quasi-government organizations, is counterproductive to The Bahamas’ sports brand.
It was primarily because of the aforementioned and other shortcomings, that the previous governments began the process toward the formal establishment of a National Sports Academy. Our sports academy is supposed to be similar to Cuba’s sports outreach into all of the provinces. Under such a model, the neglect that is evident in Abaco, and elsewhere in the Family Islands, would not exist.
I note the Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Michael Pintard addressing some important sports issues, such as the National Subvention Program, but quite frankly his challenge relates to the entire system, especially the Family Islands.
An expanded tour of sports facilities in the Family Islands would no doubt uncover situations similar or worse than what I observed in Abaco. During the Progressive Liberal Party’s (PLP) 2002-2007 term in governance, extensive refurbishment plans were drafted, for all of the sporting facilities in the Family Islands to be attended to. That government never followed through. The PLP came to power again (2012-2017) and never got around to living up to the promise made to the sports folks of the Family Islands.
The year 2017 is winding down and this Free National Movement (FNM) Government’s sports point person, is Minister Pintard. The state of affairs with sporting facilities in the Family Islands is now right on the table, in front of the minister.
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