#By TENAJH SWEETING
#Tribune Sports Reporter
#FOLLOWING the conclusion of the sixth Bahamas Games on Saturday night, the Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Mario Bowleg announced the seventh edition is scheduled for 2026.
#The games returned this year to coincide with the country’s 50th year of Independence, fielding 10 teams representing the islands of the Bahamas across 16 sporting disciplines. After a successful return following a 22-year hiatus, Bowleg is optimistic about the future of sports in The Bahamas and has some new initiatives on the ministry’s agenda.
#“The games are scheduled to be held every three years. We are going to try and see if we could implement regional games in The Bahamas which will be the year before the Bahamas Games,” Mr Bowleg said.
#If implemented, the games will feature the Northern Islands competing against each other, the Central Islands squaring off, and the Southern Islands battling head-to-head.
#“It will be a warmup for these Bahamas Games so that in the absence of the three years they do not feel that long wait but they have something regional that they could compete [in] that will also now prepare them for the Bahamas Games,” the minister said.
#One of the main purposes of the Bahamas Games when it was initially established in 1989 by Minister of Sports Peter J Bethell was the unification of the Family Islands through sports and discovery of new talents throughout the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
#According to the MOYSC, after watching competition from July 7-15, he felt the games had reached its true purpose.
#“I thought the games went pretty well, we might have had some loose ends here and there but we tightened up…after 22 years to bring these games back, what was most important for us was to not only unite the country together through these various sporting disciplines but to unite these young people [and] give them an experience they have not experienced before in their life,” he said.
#He added that one of the many benefits of the sixth Bahamas Games was that persons got to meet new people from the Family Islands that they can keep relationships with, especially for inter-island travelling to regattas.
#Additionally, the different sporting federations along with the minister were impressed with the talent pool of the Family Island teams.
#“It also tells us about how the various sporting federations can find those diamonds in the rough because all have said the games have allowed them to see some talent in the Family Islands that they did not know existed,” Mr Bowleg said.
#He expressed that in order to sustain and maintain our level as the best country per capita on the Olympic level, we have to be able to find those diamonds.
#The Minister was pleased with the distribution of wins in the sporting disciplines across the different Bahama Islands. The New Providence Buccaneers collected gold in soccer and track, Andros Chiccharnies took home gold for golf, Long Islands’ Sheep Runners made waves for gold in sailing, and Exuma and Eleuthera claimed the gold for basketball.
#Despite the 2023 Bahamas Games winner being the Grand Bahama Lucayans with 91 gold medals, the Minister said the talent was so widespread that each island’s victory is what they want to highlight from The Bahamas Games because each of the islands were able to accomplish something.
#Overall, Mr Bowleg said that he is very confident in the future of sports in the country and will look to have the different sporting federations establish associations on 4-5 of the major islands.