By RENALDO DORSETT
THE International Federation of American Football (IFAF) World Championships has been shrouded in controversy since it was first proposed, and now the local flag football community intends to stage a boycott of the event.
In a joint statement released by the Bahamas Flag Football League (BFFL), the Grand Bahama Flag Football League (GBFFL) and the Abaco Flag Football League (AFFL), the groups said every aspect of the event, including the selection of the Bahamian national team, has been done without their direct involvement.
The league insists they were purposefully omitted from the organisation of the event, “setting the stage for a national embarrassment” when the event is hosted in Grand Bahama, September 8-11.
“It is disappointing to see that despite the many concerns raised by the various leagues that developed the sport of flag football in the country that an outsider is allowed to continue to make a mockery of all the hard work Bahamians have put in over the years.
“We have at numerous times sought to meet and discuss the issues to ensure that the FFWC would be an inclusive event that benefited Bahamians beyond just a few heads in beds for the course of less than a week. Despite the mantra we have heard over and over that the government believes in Bahamians, their actions have spoken louder than words,” the statement said.
“This is setting the stage for a national embarrassment as without the leagues involvement, the national team will not be made up of the best the country can offer, and the end result will be a disgrace to The Bahamas in which we could and should have been the stars and earn well-deserved acclaim. We will stand together with all our brothers and sisters in the sport and across the Bahamas in a boycott of such a mess. We deserve better and have for a long time been demanding better, but the government has been deaf to our cries.”
The Ministry of Tourism serves as the lead sponsor and the event is being spearheaded by the Bahamas American Football Federation and its Local Organising Committee.
Antonio Maycock, president of the Commonwealth American Football League, the local governing body for football, previously described the BAFF as a “rogue group” which could leave the hosting of the proposed IFAF Flag Football World Championships in jeopardy.
LaLisa Anthony, president of the BAFF, issued a statement refuting recent claims of the league’s illegitimacy and offered an expense report outlining the $20,000 seed money given to the group by the Ministry of Tourism in preparation for the Flag Football World Championships, scheduled for September 7-12 in Grand Bahama.
“At the present time, BAFF is working closely with IFAF and the 17 member countries that will be participating in the 2016 FFWC in Grand Bahama to ensure that they will have the best experience possible,” she said. “Even though there are persons that see things in a different manner, BAFF will not be derailed and is only focused on bringing close to 1,000 tourists to Grand Bahama during the first two-weeks in September 2016.”
The last local venture associated with the BAFF was facilitating the youth clinic hosted by the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl, however, they are not affiliated with any local football league. The Bahamas Bowl committee subsequently announced that in 2016 they will partner with the Commonwealth American Football League for this year’s event and any ventures moving forward for the development of the sport.
A total of 28 teams representing 17 countries are expected to play in the tournament.
The IFAF Flag Football World Championship has been held since 2002 and is the showpiece bi-annual tournament for senior national teams in 5-on-5 flag football and has separate competitions for both men and women.
This year will mark the 8th World Championship.