September 25, 2018

Six years after an exploratory Ministry of Sports delegation visited Moore’s Island and came away determined that a sports complex was essential and deserving, the venerable Rev. Anthony Williams, the esteemed track and field coach, still has to be satisfied with an uneven field to train youngsters of the island.

Typical of the last Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) government, a sports complex project was indeed started, but not finished. The area for a 400 meters track was cleared and initially prepared, but never surfaced. Perhaps the PLP sports arm, headed by Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Dr. Daniel Johnson, was too ambitious.

Rev. Williams said as much on Monday.

“My view, which was presented to Dr. Johnson, was just to put in place a facility that was needed. Later on, there could have been expansion. But, if there was a concentration on just giving us something superior to train on, the track could have been finished. Now, weed has grown up throughout.

“I haven’t heard anything from anybody. During the last CARIFTA Games, Minister of Sports then, Mr. Pintard, promised to visit. That did not happen and I haven’t heard anything since from the Ministry of Sports,” lamented Rev. Williams.

This is a difficult situation to process. One would figure that when such a great sacrifice is made and dedication is demonstrated for national sports development by an individual, respective governments would step forward and provide added assistance.

Rev. Williams’ coaching background glitters. As has been pointed out in this column, Rev. Williams and his young athletes brought fame to Moore’s Island. Ten years ago, he emerged on the national scene with sprinters who outclassed rivals. He then crafted teams that performed extremely well outside of the country, and in particular, on the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) World Relays stage.

He did all that, being able to utilize only the antiquated field at the school grounds in Moore’s Island. For upper body and leg strength, Rev. Williams had his charges pull a huge tractor tire. He simply made the best of what was at his disposal.

The good reverend is still doing that.

“Yes, I am still working with my athletes, doing the best I can, at the field by the school, the same place,” said Rev. Williams.

It must not be forgotten or under-emphasized, one other aspect that demonstrates the mettle of the coach. A certain Steven Gardiner, who is one of the world’s greatest sprinters, ever, over both the half (200 meters) and full lap (400 meters) distances, was discovered and nurtured right in Moore’s Island by Rev. Williams.

Yes, Rev. Williams produced one of the finest athletes in Bahamian history, one the world will more than likely hear a lot more from.

Just think what more he could do, if provided with a quality training facility.

In the meantime, he perseveres in the tranquil community of Moore’s Island in the Abacos.

• To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at sturrup1504@gmail.com or on WhatsApp at 727-6363.