The new administration of the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) certainly has its work cut out for them as this is expected to be a busy four-year period in track and field in the country.
On tap for next year alone is the 50th CARIFTA Games, the Bahamas Games and a number of local high school and club meets. In 2024, the World Relay Championships is set to return to The Bahamas, and going forward through 2026 will be two world outdoor championships, three world indoor championships and the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.
For now, the focus is on the 2022-2023 season, which will climax with the 50th CARIFTA Games right here in Nassau, The Bahamas, for junior track and field athletes. CARIFTA will be hosted at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium over the Easter holiday weekend, April 8-10, 2023.
BAAA President Drumeco Archer said one of their goals is to engage the community more, and induce more youth participation and more fan participation in track and field.
“We’re looking for a federation that is a part of the community, so fan participation is going to be a huge focus for us,” he said. “The catalyst for the major initiatives that we have planned for for 2023 will no doubt be the 50th anniversary of the CARIFTA Games coupled with the 50th anniversary of our country.
“We will use that to maximize the profile and the presence of our federation. This is a brand new administrative team, but although they are new, many of them have been in similar roles before, so the acumen of their respective roles is at the highest level. The mandate that we will have for the next four years will be one that will put us at the very top of administrative history of our federation.”
Serving as the first vice president is Foster Dorsett. John Ingraham is the new second vice president. The vice president of finance is Laketah Charlton; the vice president of public relations and marketing position is this paper’s journalist Sheldon Longley; Pharez Cooper, from Grand Bahama, is the new vice president of business operations; and Tito Moss is the new vice president of technical operations.
Elected to the council positions for the BAAA for the next four-year term are Jason Edwards, who will serve as the council chairman; Dionne Britton, Mikhilo Strachan, Andrew Tynes, Kennard Mackey, Jason Larrimore and Robert Ayton.
For this CARIFTA year alone, the budget for track and field in the country is reported to be around $3 million. Oaktree Medical Center came on board as the title sponsor of the 50th CARIFTA Games, donating $300,000.
Archer said more funding is a primary concern and focus of this new administration.
“I think we need to open our mouths more and speak more clearly about why we need funding. The federation continues to live at a subsistent level,” said Archer. “If the country wants us to do more, and to produce more, then we certainly would need more from the country. I am indebted to the government of The Bahamas for being such a champion for us, together with the Bahamas Olympic Committee. I believe the corporate community could do a whole lot more. I believe it starts with the alignment of what we are in our core values and to align that with corporate Bahamas.
“I believe that what we do as an organization is far more than just track and field and with the alignment with the healthcare profession, there is limitless benefits – from telecommunications, from finance and many more. We will aggressively be targeting those entities. The numbers we are looking for cannot be solely dependent on corporate Bahamas. We are looking at the mom and pop stores because they are the ones who are a part of the grassroot movement of our sport. The smaller pennies are the ones that accumulate the most money. We want everyone to be on board and we are excited about four years from now.”
The 2024 world relays is expected to be one of the more anticipated events that year. The country, in general, has longed for a return of the world relays ever since it left in 2017. The first three editions of the event were held in The Bahamas, in 2014, 2015 and again in 2017.
“This board has an opportunity of a lifetime,” said Archer. “We were the pioneers of the world relays – hosting it for three successive editions. It has returned and I think the world is looking forward to coming back to The Bahamas. Our task is to recreate this event and make it more grand than before as we continue to re-engineer how we see and how we experience track and field. Also, during this term, we will witness 50 years of existence and success as a country and 50 years of CARIFTA legacy. We are excited to be history makers and we are excited to be hosting the region.”
Archer said coaching and athlete development go hand in hand, and that is another area that the new administration intends to address in this four-year period.
“At the end of the last term, there was a focus on coaching development and athlete development through a talent search. It is one of the huge undertakings of this federation,” said Archer. “We believe that as we grow, the training acumen and technology that we will introduce to our sport, we believe that we will attract more people to remain and train here in The Bahamas. Even if we have to bring in specialists, we will do that. We want to be able to grow the sport from home and be able to say that we produce the best athletes in the world from right here in The Bahamas. Our focus is to produce the best athletes in the world and, without the coaches, that is for naught. So, we appreciate the role of the coaches association and we intend to engage with them more and more on a regular basis to produce the desired results.”
Archer said he is grateful to the track and field community for their confidence in him and this new team, and looks forward to the next four years of track and field in The Bahamas.
The first meet on the BAAA calendar for the 2022-2023 season is the Odd Distance Track and Field Meet, set for Saturday, December 17.