By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
In his return to Grand Bahama where he won the seat as the Member of Parliament for Central Grand Bahama, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Michael Pintard found himself moving from one venue to another in support of two major sporting activities on the island.
Pintard had to traverse from the Grand Bahama Sports Complex where the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations hosted their National Track and Field Championships to the EMERA Baseball Stadium where the Bahamas Baseball Federation staged their National Baseball Championships.
"It's wonderful for the island, but candidly I would have loved if they had been held within days of each other so the fans can enjoy both events," he said.
"I think nationally we have to work out some scheduling things on the sports side and on the cultural side, but for Grand Bahama, it's a wonderful thing. I hope the people spent some money because the economy is extremely tight in Grand Bahama at the moment."
At the Grand Bahama Sports Complex, Pintard said they had an opportunity to make some improvements just before the start of the track championships, sponsored by Aliv, so that they can look ahead at hosting more international events there in the future.
"These facilities as well as the EMERA Baseball Stadium will get some more attention as we look to partner with the corporate community because it's not something that government can do alone," he pointed out.
"But I'm dedicating some time, energy and resources to the financial side of growing sports. So we expect that the sports fund will be populated with funds because it's not just about going out and spending the money that government put into sports, but also raising funds to help sustain what it is that we do."
While Grand Bahama got some infusion with the two nationals held simultaneously, Pintard said they're working on ensuring that the Family Islands are not left behind. "I'm optimistic. One of the significant things that is developing now is better synergy between the Ministry of Sports and the Ministry of Tourism," Pintard stated.
"It's important that Sports Tourism, as envisioned by the Ministry of Tourism, is carefully married with the ministry responsible for sports so that we can share resources and use the best talent in terms of coming up with a strategic plan for the Bahamas so that when international sports come here, it benefits the local organizations."
Pintard said they would also be looking at improving the skill set of the coaches, the officials and even the athletes to ensure that they re all on the cutting edge of sports to provide a better product all around.
As the Nationals came to a close on Saturday night, Pintard said what saw was good for athletics.
"The athletes showed up. Our premier athletes came home and put on a show for the Bahamian people," Pintard said. "We are still waiting to see how many persons hit the qualifying mark because we want to make sure that we have proper representation for the IAAF World Championships."
As for the fans support, Pintard said it couldn't get any better than what he saw.
"The stands were filled. Grand Bahamians came out," he stressed. "Grand Bahama is a wonderful location for athletes and we intent to consistently improve the facilities in order to bring more events here.
"Over the next five years, you can measure this administration as we put in place the pieces that would attract our national as well as international athletes."
Baseball didn't finish until Sunday, but Pintard said he's quite aware of the challenges that the federation face with Freedom Farm and the Bahamas Baseball Association and he hope that those issues will be resolved in the best interest of the sport moving forward.