February 6, 2020
The Henry Crawford Fitness Center, established during the first Perry Christie-Progressive Liberal Party Government (2002-2007), has been phased out. It should be restored in his honor, as is befitting someone who made such a valuable contribution to sports development.
I doubt that the present Minister of Sports, Hon. Lanisha Rolle, has been updated regarding the Henry Crawford Fitness Center. I submit that she has had to operate in the blind, because of not being provided with a lot of sports data/knowledge that should have been passed on to her.
Crawford, the legend, who died in 1986, was initially honored when the old Pan Am Building was renovated and state of the art equipment items for training, fitness and conditioning, were put in place. In 2007, the Christie Government was ousted, and Hubert Ingraham and the Free National Movement were returned to power, politically.
The focus at the time was completing the new Thomas A. Robinson Stadium, and, in the process much of the Queen Elizabeth Sports complex was re-configured, inclusive of levelling the Henry Crawford Fitness Center. That Ingraham/FNM Administration moved on with the new stadium as a high priority and the five-year tenure ended, without the Crawford Fitness Center being restored.
Christie and the PLP were entrusted with running the affairs of the Bahamian people once again in 2012, and priority agenda items for sports development did not include restoring the Crawford Fitness Center. It just fell through the cracks, in favor of using funding to bring the track at the new stadium up to the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) standard (for the World Relays); and the infield on par with the Federation of International Football Associations’ (FIFA) soccer specifications.
In 2017, another FNM Administration came to power, this time, with Dr. Hubert Minnis as the leader and new prime minister. He has been in charge politically, now, for going on three years (May 10 coming will be the three-year point), and nothing has been said about restoring the Crawford Fitness Center.
Let me just add that there are two other luminaries, in whose honor facilities were named, and, demolished due to work being done on the new stadium. I refer to the Andre Rodgers Baseball Stadium and the Churchill Tener-Knowles Softball Stadium. The task to restore them is much higher and a great deal more expensive. There is a new baseball stadium being constructed, but that is in limbo.
Restoring the Henry Crawford Fitness is not nearly as challenging. In the eastern section of the national stadium are rooms that are available. Two of them could be designed and utilized to house equipment and be transformed into the restored Crawford Fitness Center. This is an easier fit and less expensive.
It is imperative that we not allow our heroes to be forgotten, in particular those who have been already honored by putting their names on facilities. The idea of naming facilities in honor of sporting heroes is for them to be always remembered. Crawford is certainly one who should be cemented in history, so that all generations have an awareness for what he meant to nation building through his sporting efforts.
He was, as a track and field trainer, greater than most and surpassed by none. His forte was sprint-training. Some of the true speed burners in Bahamian history were discovered, nurtured and developed into elite performers, under the guidance of Crawford.
As a result, he will forever be linked to the late premier sprinters, Tommy Robinson, George Collie, Walter Callendar, Hugh Bullard, Gordon Farrington and Lester Strachan. He was a stalwart trainer/mentor for the St. George’s Sporting Club, and, the Pioneers Sporting Club.
He emulated another deceased sporting giant, Charlie Major Sr.
Let’s restore the Henry Crawford Fitness Center.
This is a grand opportunity for the present Minister of Sports and her ministry colleagues. Restoring the Henry Crawford Fitness Center could be a solid plank in her resume as sports minister. All and sundry, connected to track and field, in particular the parent organization for the sport, Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA), should support the showcasing of Crawford once again, through the re-naming of a facility in his honor.
(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at email@example.com or on WhatsApp 727-6363).