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By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
They may not have gotten all of the sporting bodies back together again, but for the first time in many years, all of the school leagues will be operating under the same sporting calendar, which will better facilitate the Ministry of Education with the execution of their National High School Championships and Pilot Programmes in the various disciplines.
Evon Wisdom, who heads the Sports Unit in the Ministry of Education, said it’s a move that should benefit sports in general in the Bahamas.
“The GSSSA (Government Secondary Schools Sports Association) and the Secondary Sports Association in Grand Bahama will have a unified schedule with the BAISS (Bahamas Association of Independent Secondary Schools),” Wisdom said. “Softball will be the first athletic event for high school inter-collegiate athletes.
“That will be followed by cross country, basketball, soccer and then volleyball, which will round out the season. That’s the same schedule as the BAISS is on. The only other sport that they participate in that we don’t do is swimming. But we’re pretty much on the same schedule as they are.”
Wisdom noted that the new Minister of Education Jerome Fitzgerald recently held a meeting with Eugene Bonimy, who represented the BAISS, Mrs Adderley, who represented the GSSSA and Kenton Rolle of Grand Bahama, who substituted for Norris Bain and the Small Schools Association, headed by Pastor Dave Adams.
“The minister insisted that he wanted to see championship events in these major sports, especially in the senior high and junior high levels, not the primary level,” Wisdom said. “In order for that to happen, it meant that we had to be playing the same sport at the same time in some extent.
“We know that we had a big problem with softball being last on the sporting programme for the GSSSA and Grand Bahama, while it’s first on the BAISS schedule and vice versa with volleyball. We found it was difficult to even do an invitational event that would decide a national champion in these two particular sports.
“So for the first time in many, many years, we are going to cause for that to happen. Based on rankings and how they finish in their leagues, we will send out invitations to the various school associations. We are looking at the format right now, but I think it will be for first, second and third from the various bodies.”
The Family Island schools will have a slightly different criteria for their participation, which will probably be in the form of their own championships to determine who will represent their islands.
The first event on the calendar for the Ministry of Education will be the Austin ‘King Snake’ Knowles National High School Championships which, as usual, is set to be held November 7-9 at the Baillou Hills Sporting Complex. The event is organised by the Bahamas Softball Federation.
“For the first time in years, you have a unified association,” Wisdom said. “They won’t be playing against each other, but for the first time, the actual core sport will be played at a specific time in a given season throughout the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.”
It’s a move to facilitate all of the sporting bodies playing high school sports at the same time that will conclude with a National High School Championships.
Last year, the ministry hosted a pilot programme for volleyball in Grand Bahama, which will now become a full fledge championship. The championship, according to Wisdom, will return to Grand Bahama because of the success that they achieved in its initial year.
In a press release, the ministry announced the following:
• The Ministry of Education wishes to announce that for the first time in many years both the public and private schools on the Islands of New Providence and Grand Bahama will follow the same sport format.
• This milestone was reached under the able leadership of Minister of Education Jerome Fitzgerald, talks between presidents of various Principals Associations were held over the summer, at the Ministry of Education
• This milestone does not facilitate the schools playing each other in the regular season, but opens the door for concluding National High School Championships in each of the core sports.
• The Ministry of Education is currently in talks with various District Superintendents in our Family Islands regarding the unified High School Sports format also. The format is as follows:
Softball (Boys & Girls Championships) – to be held in New Providence.
Cross Country (Boys & Girls Pilot Programme) – to be held in New Providence.
Basketball (Boys Pilot Programme) – to be held in New Providence.
Basketball (Girls Championship) – to be held in Grand Bahama.
Track & Field (Boys & Girls Championships) – to be held in New Providence.
Soccer (Boys & Girls Pilot Programme) – to be held in Grand Bahama.
Volleyball (Boys & Girls Championships) – to be held in Grand Bahama.
At least one of the relevant bodies noted how pleased they were to see the unification of the sporting schedule.
“What we are trying to do in conjunction with the Ministry of Education is to establish national high school championships,” Forbes said. “So we want everybody to be on the same page with regards to the sporting calendar so that at the end of each sport, we can have high school nationals.
“I think it’s a move in the right direction because for too long we have been talking about doing it. With the new ministry in place, they are all willing to do so. With their assistance, we can look forward to doing it this year. Everything is in place and we are looking forward to a good year.”
As for the movement of physical education teachers and coaches, Forbes noted that as far as he knows, only Edna Forbes has moved from CV Bethel, while Audrey Martin has also been moved from CC Sweeting to North Andros High.