By RENALDO DORSETT
IT IS time for the government to revisit its approach toward assisting developmental and elite Bahamian athletes on the subvention programme, according to Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Dr Daniel Johnson.
He suggested the government and sporting federations work on creating a programme based on a system of endorsement and scholarship opportunities.
“The subvention programme has run its course and I think we have to review it,” he said.
“What we want is on the developmental side, getting young people out of high school into college and opening that door. We want a scholarship style approach for these student athletes, and then for the professional athletes, we really want them to wear our brand, wear the flag and win. We want endorsements from the country like they would have for Adidas or Nike or any other sports country. That will support our brand as a permanent fixture on the world’s stage.”
In its current form, the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, through the Department of Sports, offers assistance to developing, intermediate, and elite athletes to assist with the development of sport.
Its website states: “As an athlete progresses, the status is changed from developing to intermediate, and finally to elite status. It is the responsibility of the federation to supply the department with information regarding the development and progress of the employee. Any assistance received is directly related to the established status of the athlete.”
A subjective process, the system constantly came under fire because of what many athletes considered an “unclear” determination of the criteria needed to achieve a particular status. There was also the matter of developmental athletes as subvention for them could conflict with the rules necessary for them to maintain their amateur status.
Several federations opted out of the programme officially while others attempted to manage the programme in a limited capacity.
“We take the recommendations of the federations in terms of selection but the programme itself needs complete revision. But the decision will not rest in one person, the decision will go to a review panel and the process will be transparent,” Dr Johnson said.
“We need to meet more. Most of our athletes have to train abroad. The thing for us to do is to get a major training facility and a sports academy here in the Bahamas so more of them can train at home. We need a sports medicine institute, a sports science institute and to have our athletes in one place and that would go a long way in alleviating many of our issues.”