By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
ANTON Sealey may have made one of the biggest decisions in his administrative career in sports when he opted not to run for the presidency of the Bahamas Olympic Committee.
Sealey, one of the six outgoing vice presidents, decided not to contest the recent elections so that he could concentrate on his role as president of the Bahamas Football Association, a position he held since 1996 and re-elected in 1998.
Under his direction, the BFA has two major projects that the organisation is gearing up for next month. The first is the CONCACAF Beach Soccer Championships, scheduled for May 8-12, that serves as a regional qualifier for the FIFA World Cup at To’ata Stadium in Papeete, Tahiti, September 18-28.
That will be followed by the historic hosting of the exhibition game between the Tottenham Hotspur and the Jamaican “Reggae Boyz” national team in the new Thomas A Robinson National Stadium on May 23. It will mark the first time that a soccer match will be played in the $30 million, 15,000-seat stadium built by the People’s Republic of China.
The exhibition match will be used by Jamaica’s national team as a tune-up for their qualifying round of the 2014 FIFA World Cup match against Mexico the following week. The “Reggae Boyz” are one of the highest ranked teams in the CONCACAF. They are currently ranked at No. 53 by FIFA, which has Mexico pegged at No.14.
The Tottenham Hotspur football club, commonly referred to as the “Spurs,” is an English football club based in Tottenham, London, and they play in the Premier League.
Their match will bring a lot of recognition to the Bahamas on the European market where track and field has been a household name because of the success of our athletes over the years in either the Olympic Games, the IAAF World Championships and the European circuit and legendary retired tennis player Mark Knowles has made his mark on the ATP World Tour.
I only have one request and that is the BFA should put on an exhibition match between the Bahamian national team and a Haitian select team. With so many Haitians living and playing soccer here, it will definitely provide an abundance of spectators in the arena.
It will also provide an opportunity for Bahamians to see their national team perform in a high intense atmosphere that Tottenham and Jamaica will bring when they come.
The BFA was originally scheduled to host its qualifying match for the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier in the stadium in 2011, but Sealey announced that they had to withdraw because the stadium was not completed and the Roscoe Davies Developmental Stadium at the Baillou Hills Sporting Complex was not adequate to host their Jamaican opponents.
Three years later, the Bahamas is now hosting Jamaica in the new stadium in an exhibition game against Tottenham. What a remarkable feather in the cap of the association.
Sealey and his executives have quite a bit of work to do over the next few weeks to ensure that the Bahamas is prepared for the influx of foreign athletes, officials and spectators who are expected to be in town for the two historic events.
Already, the BFA has received high marks for the construction of the beach soccer facility at Malcolm Park at the foot of the Sir Sydney Poitier Bridge. The association christened the facility on November 19 with an exhibition match between Jamaica and the Bahamas.
This, however, will mark the first time that a qualifying tournament for the World Cup in beach soccer will be staged in the Caribbean since its inception in 2005. The last four of the other six qualifiers were in Mexico, while the first two were in Brazil and Costa Rica respectively.
Obviously, this speaks volumes for the Bahamas, which is known for its sunny weather, beautiful sand and seas. No doubt, the hospitality of the Bahamian people have been just as paramount.
Hats off to Sealey and the BFA.
With so much ahead of them, there’s no wonder why Sealey wasn’t all that enthused about running again for the BOC.
This week, BOC president Wellington Miller, accompanied by two of his new vice presidents - Cora Hepburn and Derron Donaldson - are off to Lima, Peru to attend the World Conference of the International Olympic Committee’s ‘Sports for All Programme.’
The conference is designed to provide an opportunity for both Hepburn and Donaldson to get their feet wet in the inner workings of the Olympic movement as they will be enlightened on how to spread the word around to the masses on their return home next week.
It’s important that with a virtually new regime in place, that as the BOC moves forward, we will see them all making an impact in the community and not just when it comes down to travelling as delegates of the various national teams to the CAC, Pan Am, Commonwealth and or Olympic Games, the four international sporting activities that they are responsible for.
The BOC is regarded as the highest sporting organisation in the country, but many people have indicated that they haven’t felt the full effect in the various sporting associations and federations that fall under the organisation.
Maybe the change in the makeup of the new executive team will change all of that over the next four years.