THE FINISH LINE: Who will emerge as the new sports minister?


Brent Stubbs



IT IS not how you start, nor how you get there. Most importantly, it’s how you finish.

• The Finish Line, a weekly column, seeks to comment on the state of affairs in local sports, highlighting the highs and the lows, the thrills and the spills and the successes and failures.


OVER the past few years, we have seen a drastic decline in the participation of athletes and teams in all of our sporting events.

The Bahamas Softball Federation’s Austin ‘King Snake’ Knowles National Softball Tournament was also affected over the weekend in the Banker’s Field at the Baillou Hills Sporting Complex.

But despite a reduction in the teams participating, it still turned out to be a very competitive one in both the boys’ and girls’ divisions.

Federation president Ted Miller and patron Austin Knowles were both smiling from ear to ear as they watched the intense three days of competition unfold.

Tournament organiser Kelly Smith, who was assisted by Leroy Thompson, must be commended for the tremendous work that she put in to make the event a success this year.

I’ve been privy to a lot of the coaxing that she encountered trying to get more teams to participate. In addition to the personal contacts of both private and public schools, social media was flooded with information.

Maybe, it might have been the media who fell down on not promoting it as much, but this time around, I felt the federation and the committee did their jobs in trying to get more teams to participate this year.

Unfortunately, the numbers were still down, but that didn’t in any way take away from the Spanish Wells Bulldogs in their domination of the boys’ division and the Charles W Saunders Cougars in their triumph in the girls’ division. Already there are talks about moving the championship to Eleuthera, home of Knowles, who indicated that he always enjoys taking the time to come here and spend with the young future stars of the game.

Will the tournament have the same impact as it did here? Will more teams be willing to make the trek to the island known for its pineapples and as the capital of softball in the country?

That is yet to be seen. Miller and the federation will have their work cut out for them. Maybe a change in scenery could make the difference.

One of the problems the federation faced was the fact that the tournament came when the private schools had already completed their softball season and the majority of them were not prepared to go back to the sport.

However, it worked in favour of the government schools as they had just completed their softball season. But they also had a problem in that the boys played baseball instead of softball. So they had to make some adjustments.

Maybe, they should look at hosting softball for girls and baseball for boys. But that’s a story for a different time and there’s not enough time or space to debate the issues.


By this time next week, we would have either returned the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) to office or ushered in the Free National Movement (FNM) or the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) as the new government.

As we prepare for the inevitable to take place on Wednesday, the question that is looming in our circle is who will emerge as the new Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture? Will the ministry remain the same or will the portfolios change?

Those questions reside in the hands of the Prime Minister elected as he forms his cabinet on day one.  I’m sure all three aspiring candidates have already given some consideration to what will transpire.

Looking at all spectrums, there are any number of persons running for office with some type of sporting background who could eventully replace Dr Daniel Johnson, the outgoing minister, who is not seeking re-election as the Member of Parliament for Carmichael.

So far, only the DNA has released its list of shadow ministers with sportscaster Gerrino Saunders tipped to serve as Minister of Sports. He is seeking to win the newly instituted St Barnabas constituency.

So with Dr Johnson out, unless the PLP is returned and he gets a post in the Senate and reappointed as the minister, who on the PLP side do you feel are viable candidates to replace him?

The PLP has always boasted of being more sports friendly than any other party, but there are some who would beg to differ based on what they would have seen transpire during their tenure.

Could Clifford ‘Butch’ Scavalla be a possible candidate? The Central & South Eleuthera candidate is a former national softball champion pitcher with the perennial kingpins Budweiser Eagles and ace Richard ‘the Lion-Heart’ Johnson era.

There’s also Norris Bain, the candidate for Marco City, who is famed for his role as one of the top high school basketball coaches when he was with the Tabernacle Baptist Falcons, as well as Greg Burrows, the founder of Freedom Farm Baseball League.

What about the FNM?

Desmond Bannister, seeking to return as the MP for Carmichael after moving to run in Andros in the last elecetion, is a former minister who brought a lot of integrity to the office when he served under the administration of Hubert Ingraham.

If elected, will he get the nod again?

The FNM also has two Olympians running in Renward Wells in Bamboo Town and Iram Lewis in Central Grand Bahama. Can any of them fit the description. Lewis is already actively involved in sports administration as a vice president of the Bahamas Olympic Committee.

They also have two prominent former basketball players in Shanendon Cartwright in St Barnabas and Eleuthera-native Vaughn Miller in Golden Isles as well as Fox Hill’s Shonel Ferguson, MBE, a former national and Commonwealth Games long jump record holder, who at one time had her image placed on our mailing stamp.

It’s just some food for thought.

And as you digest the thought and look ahead to the selection of the next minster, let’s hope that this issue with the subvention of our athletes can be resolved.

It’s sad to note that not only the swimmers, but our athletes in track and field and tennis are also being affected, but none of them really want to speak out for fear of being victimised.

Dr Johnson, in response to questions raised in letters written by Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace, Vereance ‘Elvis’ Burrows and Joanna Evans, said it’s all politically motivated.

But how could it be politically motivated when all they want to know is why their payments of subventions for their training were either reduced or cut. I could see Johnson saying maybe the timing of the issue coming to light is not the right time because of the political climate in the country.

But when no formal communication has been released yet from Director of Sports, Timothy Munnings, who only indicated the whole process is still under review, it’s cause for action.

It’s time for more action and less talking.


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