By FRED STURRUP NG Columnist
Freeport-GRAND BAHAMA, Grand Bahama has struggled within the economic depression than any other island in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. The island is paralyzed by unemployment, layoffs, business closures and generally a dampened spirit.
The industrial sector and government jobs have been the backbone during this trying period in the life of Grand Bahamians. Private entities, even the Grand Bahama Port Authority, have been severely tested.
Into this scenario comes the prospect of a regional sports event that could be the appropriate tonic to pick up Grand Bahama. Since St. Kitts is unable to host the CARIFTA Track and Field Championships this year and Jamaica was unable to step in and be accommodating, Jamaican Teddy McCook, who heads the North American, Central American and Caribbean Association(NACAC), has invited our local member association to do the honors.
However, as Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations chief Mike Sands has emphasized, the option could be a sparkplug for the Grand Bahama economy, if first, the full funding is secured.
It is understood that the BAAA has already gotten some pledges from Corporate Bahamas with the hopes of receiving enough to entice the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture to appeal to the Cabinet for supplementary funding.
I also see this as an instance whereby Corporate Grand Bahama should go all out to assist. Apart from the historic aspect of CARIFTA in Grand Bahama, the visiting of hundreds of athletes, officials and supporters from the rest of The Bahamas and the Caribbean region would be a huge sports/tourism boost for the entire island.
The time is short. This window of opportunity is closing quickly now. January will be gone soon and the CARIFTA Track and Field Championships are traditionally held around the Easter period. That would be the April 22nd weekend this year. In essence, sponsors will have to rally to the cause very soon.
The sporting landscape is the greatest beacon in the nation today and the CARIFTA Track and Field Championships would certainly shine a bright light all over Grand Bahama, indeed the entire northern Bahamas.
An appreciable infusion of cash into that local system would be the end result. The national airline Bahamasair, hotels, restaurants, souvenir shops, etc., would benefit immensely. The Bahamian economy is still distressed but this sports opportunity is one that ought not be missed. The Grand Bahama Members of Parliament and community leaders there should get into the act.