#By BRENT STUBBS
#Senior Sports Reporter
#THE National Sports Authority has a new board and Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Mario Bowleg has mandated them to go out around the world and bring the “Sports in Paradise” brand to the various facilities under the jurisdiction for the 52 weeks of the year.
#Bowleg introduced the new board during a press conference on Friday in the foyer of the Thomas A Robinson National Stadium.
#Calling them a “new, energetic board,” Bowleg announced the members, which include Greg Burrows Sr as the chairman, Grafton Ifill Jr as the deputy, Director of Sports Timothy Munnings (statutory member) and NSA general manager Quinton Brennen (statutory member), along with Bahamas Basketball Federation representative Moses Johnson, basketball Hall of Famer Keith ‘Belzee’ Smith, volleyball Hall of Famer Margaret ‘Muggy’ Albury, Felice Albury and Nicole Pratt.
#“This board is made up of a diverse group of young men and women, who believe have the necessary resources and assets and mindset to take this National Sports Authority to the next level,” said Bowleg, of the board he said is made up of former bankers, businessmen and women and CPAs.
#“The whole idea in the lounge of Sports in Paradise is to ensure that these facilities are occupied within the 52 weeks of the year by bringing the various disciplines and events to our shores that would also impact us economically through sports tourism.”
#Without going into any details, Bowleg said having read the controversial report of the previous board where the auditor general Terrance Bastian discovered some irregularities that took place financially, he’s concerned about what transpired.
#But while he assured the public that where any legal action is warranted, the Bahamas Government will pursue that course for those guilty. He stated that as the leader of this board appointed by himself, he will take responsibility for any infractions.
#He also revealed that very shortly, he intends to release the names of those persons appointed to the Sports Advisory Board that will be mandated for sports policies and how to assist the various federations and associations.
#As it further relates to the NSA Board, Bowleg said they will not sit back and wait for events to come to them.
#“The mandate of this board is to go around the world and seek events and bring them back to this country,” said Bowleg, referring to the collegiate Final Four and the various professional league’s playoffs and championships where they will set up booths to sell the facilities to entice people to want to host their events in Sports in Paradise.
#Without letting the “cat out of the bag,” Bowleg said his ministry will also engage our elite athletes as sports ambassadors as well as persons in culture as culture ambassadors to assist in the promotion of the Bahamas.
#On Friday, the new board will get its first taste of competition when they oversee the seventh edition of the Bahamas Bowl football game between the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders and the Toledo Rockets at 1pm Friday at the TAR National Stadium.
#The game, Bowleg reminded the public, is free of charge and will be carried live on ESPN.
#From July 7-11, the inaugural Babe Ruth Region Caribbean Championship and International Baseball Tournament will be staged here.
#Bowleg, however, said the new Andre Rodgers Baseball Stadium may not be ready, but they hope to have the two adjacent fields prepared for the event. “Myself and the Minister of Works, Alfred Sears, are scheduled to meet with the contractor next week to get an update and get a timeline on when the work will be finished,” Bowleg said.
#“There’s some funding that is owed to the contractor, which we hope to get sorted out. Once that is sorted out, we will see more work being done to get it completed in a timely manner.”
#Additionally, Bowling said his ministry has put in a bid to have the World Athletics’ World Relays returned to the Bahamas for the seventh edition in 2025.
#The first three editions took place here in 2014, 2015 and 2017 before losing the fourth bid in 2019 to Japan.
#This year’s fifth event was staged in Poland and China has already secured the hosting of the sixth edition in 2023.
#“We are in competition with other countries, but it’s our intent to have it return here,” Bowleg said.
#Burrows, in expressing his gratitude to Bowleg on behalf of his members for the opportunity to serve on the board, said there are events on the drawing board that they will be reviewing.
#With venues including boxing, softball, baseball, soccer, basketball, volleyball, athletics, swimming, tennis and hotrod under their portfolio right now, Burrows said they have to seek out and find the international events and other cultural and social events to take place here in the Bahamas.
#For those venues that are shared by sports and cultural and social events, Burrows said they will have to find a way to co-exist on a first-come, first-serve basis to ensure that they maximise the use of all of the facilities.
#Burrows, by the way, serves as the Babe Ruth Caribbean Region Commissioner. He is also the founder of the Freedom Farm Baseball League where many of the players in the under- 12 divisional championship and 15-and-under divisional invitational will be selected to represent the Bahamas.