By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
TABERNACLE Baptist Christian Academy has been praised for its outstanding performance in sports and academics in Grand Bahama, where it is one of the leading private educational institutions.
Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe, and Grand Bahama Minister, Dr Michael Darville, commended the Academy’s principal, Norris Bain, for the “outstanding job” he is doing at the school and for what he is doing to promote tourism on the island through the annual Thanksgiving Basketball tournament, in which six US teams participated, the 16th year the tournament has been held in Freeport.
Mr Wilchcombe indicated that 80 per cent of the country’s visitors come from the United States and tourism is responsible for 60 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product and more than 50 per cent of the jobs.
“You being here this week is a part of our building tourism,” he told the Tennessee and Georgia teams at the opening ceremony last week. “Since we had this event for the Thanksgiving period we’ve seen occupancy levels grow and we’ve seen business increase. Each time you come to our shores, there is another Bahamian with a meal, another job and another opportunity – that’s how important you are to our tourism industry,” he said.
Mr Wilchcombe said the sport of basketball has provided an opportunity for many talented Bahamians, who have achieved outstanding success in the NBA, including Mychal “Sweet Bells” Thompson and Rick Foxx of the LA Lakers.
“We are proud of the fact that our nation can boast that we have some great basketball players. And here in GB, you will see some other great Bahamians who may have the opportunity to play in the big leagues,” he said.
He commended basketball coaches Gladstone “Moon” McPhee and Charlie “Softly” Robbins of Grand Bahama for their contributions in the development of many talented players. “They made basketball what it is today – Moon McPhee brought the first basketball tournament to Grand Bahama, and we (GB) won our first national basketball championship in the country when Charlie ‘Softly’ Robbins came to GB,” Mr Wilchcombe said.
“We always had great stars in sports – here today we have softball greats such as Churchill Tener-Knowles, MP Neko Grant, and former MP Lindy Russell. They understand the importance of sport and how it helps to build the man. They know it has altruistic value and what it means to be on a team – to sacrifice, to give, and to lose. That’s how you build communities and how you build young men; that’s what causes communities to grow and nations to develop,” he said.
Mr Wilchcombe said Principal Bain was “an outstanding man in our community and an outstanding leader”.
Dr Darville also congratulated Mr Bain for his contributions to the youth of Grand Bahama through academics and sports. He said the tournament has grown and has been utilised as a medium to assist numerous young people to display their skills and talent at a national and international level.
He explained that young Bahamians have an opportunity to further their education and talent through basketball. “People are looking at them,” he said. “The game they play today will dictate their future, and I want to remind all the participants about the importance of academics as their grades will determine the possibility of a scholarship.”
The Minister commended the staff and faculty at the Academy for their success in last year’s BGCSE and BJC results. “(This school) is definitely a trailblazer for academics,” he said.