By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
The Bahamas Softball Federation and the Bahamas Baseball Association both welcomed the news from Prime Minister Hubert Minnis that they can resume training and host competitions under strict COVID-19 rules and regulations.
Minnis and the Competent Authority released the information in a letter dated February 17, 2021, addressed to both governing bodies of their respective sports, along with the New Providence Oldtimers Softball Association.
The ruling, which was made under the advice of the Ministry of Health, is as follows:
• No more than 309 people at any practice (EOC guidance)
• Each event for competition must be submitted to MoH for approval.
• Practices must be in compliance with Emergency Orders (COVID-19 Pandemic) (Risk Management) (No./4) Order, 2020.
• No spectators.
• Strict adherence to physical distancing, mask wearing and sanitisation protocol at all times.
In addition to 1-5 above, the Competent Authority approved that all coaches and athletes must submit weekly COVID-19 rapid antigen tests with negative results and also undergo rapid antigen testing on the day of competition.
However, under the ruling, the Competent Authority indicated that it reserves the right to summarily revoke this approval should evidence arise of any breach of any terms hereto or for any other reason.
BSF president Ted Miller said it’s a step in the right direction for softball.
“We feel like we have something to work with. We could start and work with that and follow the protocols as closely as possible as things develop, and we can get back to some normalcy for the game, we’re comfortable with this right now,” Miller said.
Miller, who is currently based in Andros, said he’s advising all of their member associations to formalise themselves with the restrictions and protocols, so that the measures put in place won’t be revoked.
“Hopefully, as we go we can get more leverage, so we just need to stay within the boundaries so that we won’t get the rug pulled from underneath us again,” Miller stated. “It’s an opportunity to do something, so the associations just need to get up to speed so they know what to do and how to set up so that we won’t get shut down again.”
While he welcomed the return of the sport, Miller said he is also preparing to demit office when the BSF holds their election of officers at the end of March.
Having already indicated that he won’t be seeking another term in office, Miller said he will be willing and prepared to work with whoever is elected, if they so desire, to ensure a smooth transition. “I will stay vigilant until the last moment, but there’s no doubt that at the end of March, we will have a new administration for softball,” he noted.
“It’s not like I will just drop it and go and leave them to fend for themselves. The duty of the past president is to make a smooth transition in the operation of the federation, so I will still be around if they need me.”
Let’s play baseball
BBA president Sam Rodgers Sr said while they await the completion of the new stadium, they are looking forward to resumption of the sport at all levels.
“We got something from the Ministry of Health about three weeks ago concerning baseball on how they can start their training,” Rodgers Sr said. “But it’s great news to hear that baseball has gotten the nod to restart its season. I will make representation to the league and let them know what situation we are in right now.”
Rodgers Sr said since the pandemic broke last year, the BBA was in the planning stages for the way forward and they have also been looking at ways to get their national teams to compete overseas.
“We have a junior Pan American Games Qualifier to be played in Brazil in May and we are also getting to host an international baseball clinic here in Nassau,” he said. “These are some of the items we have on the agenda right now.”
However, once the leagues have been notified of the decision made for the sport, Rodgers Sr said he will allow them to set up their own leagues to formally begin competition.
“We have put together a health protocol booklet, which we have already issued to all of the leagues and approved by the Ministry of Health,” he pointed out. So we are just waiting on them to notify us with the opening of their leagues.”
Sports still on hold
Sports in the country, like around the world, came to a halt in March 2020 to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 during the outbreak.
The majority of sports, including both softball and baseball were adversely affected as they were unable to stage any activities since.
However, golf, tennis, swimming and track and field have since been granted permission to resume some type of competition. Softball and baseball are now the latest to be included.
Other core sports like basketball, volleyball, cycling and boxing are still waiting to get the go ahead to resume competition.
The Competent Authority indicated that they will review the concerns of the sporting bodies on a case by case basis before a determination is made on when they will be allowed to resume.