Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Mario Bowleg.
#By BRENT STUBBS
#Senior Sports Reporter
#With this being the 50th anniversary celebrations of the nation, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Mario Bowleg said there’s quite a bit of things for the sporting populace to look forward to in 2023.
#“I anticipate a very, very active year for the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture in all three departments within the ministry. That is youth, sports and culture,” said Bowleg, who just witnessed two successful junkanoo parades in New Providence and one in Grand Bahama.
#“There are some major sporting events on the calendar, including the CARIFTA Games, the return of the Bahamas, the international relays in March in Grand Bahama and the return of the Hugh Campbell Basketball Classic.”
#Not to bypass the other two components of his ministry, but Bowleg said they are looking forward to the E Clement Bethel event, the return of Junior Junkanoo with New Providence having their own on January 26 and the historic launch of the National Youth Guard in Grand Bahama where they will be preparing 100 young people for the disaster response as well as the first draft of the youth policy.
#As for the sporting activities, Bowleg said Grand Bahama, which played host to the North American, Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) Championships in November, will host the first international relays.
#“We will have some college teams coming in to participate in a series of relay events and all of the high school teams will be invited to participate,” Bowleg said.
#“It’s like a showcase event where the colleges will be looking at recruiting some of our athletes,” he added.
#Although sailing and regatta in particular fall under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Agriculture, Bowleg said his ministry is looking at a collaboration in naming sailing as the national sport during the National Family Island Regatta in George Town, Exuma, in April.
#With this being the 50th anniversary, he said it’s important for all Bahamians to embrace the celebrations because it’s not likely that many would be around for another grand occasion.
#“It’s very important for all Bahamians to get involved in celebrating this milestone,” he pointed out. “We hope that they will come out and participate in each and every event they can because it’s a rare moment that we will encounter again.
#“I know I myself will be involved in anything and everything leading up to the celebrations and during the celebrations and I encourage all athletes, officials and the fans to get involved. It’s going to be a once in a lifetime thing that you will remember for the rest of your lives.”
#One of the highlights of the celebrations will be the Bahamas Games, which makes its return after a 21-year hiatus with the last one staged back in 2001. The mini-Olympic style sporting event will take place from July 7-15 in New Providence.
#“We have a whole generation who don’t have any experience of what the Bahamas Games is all about,” he said.
#“For them to experience this, I think it will bring a new appreciation for sports in the country because for many of the athletes, they will get a chance to compete against athletes from the various Family Islands.
#“It’s a different feeling and a different view of sports that they would expect, so we’re looking forward to them coming out and participating in every event or as much as they can participate in.”
#At this stage, Bowleg said the wheels are in motion for the planning of the event through the Games Secretariat, headed by Martin Lundy, assisted by Sharon “The General” Storr.
#He noted that another conclave with the Sports Councils for each island will be held either at the end of January or the beginning of February.
#“We want to ensure that the Sports Councils are taking the necessary steps to have their teams ready to compete,” Bowleg said.
#“The funding is available for them. We know that some of them are preparing for their island games and so we’re just waiting for them to announce their dates.”
#Bowleg also took the time to wish all of the student athletes, coaches, administrators and officials a “Happy New Year.”
#He added that he hopes it will be a “prosperous one” filled with sporting activities.
#And he expressed his deepest condolences to the family of the late basketball coach and official Rodney Johnson, who will be laid to rest this weekend.