The Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) is still hoping to send its 10-member team to the IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar.
However, the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture is only contributing $25,000 of the BAAAs budget of $116,000.
Drumeco Archer, president of the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA), explained the situation and more in a four-page statement on Sunday (15 Sept).
The 17th IAAF World Athletics Championships, Doha 2019, will be over ten days, 27 Sept to 6 Oct in Doha, Qatar.
Below is the BAAA’s full statement:
“I have heard many commentaries about the financial affairs of our Federation. Many of the utterances are both unfair to all of our stakeholders and at best misleading. We have had an inextricable partnership with the Government of the Bahamas since nationhood and we are determined to preserve this relationship. However, as President of BAAA, if I did not reply honestly and fairly, I would be doing my Federation and the athletes that we serve an injustice. So I choose to provide a formal response.
Many may not realize it, but this has been a peculiar year for track and field:
First the first time this year we didn’t host the World Relays. So we had to go to Tokyo to the World Relays, an additional expense.
This year the IAAF imposed qualifying standards for the 4×100 and 4×400. For this, we spent and inordinate amount of money attempting to qualify teams through Relay Camps, attending the two meets at The University of Miami, The University of Florida.
This year we had more events for Team travel on our calendar than any other year –
The Carifta Games – Cayman Islands
Penn Relays – Philadelphia Pennsylvania
World Relays – Yokohama, Tokyo
North American, Central American and Caribbean U18 and U23 Championships – Queretaro, Mexico
Jr. Pan Am Games – El Salvador
Age Group Championship – Costa Rica
And now The World Championships
To make matters worse, all of these meets took place between a six-month period (April to September) That is why have experienced severe cash flow challenges.
The scenario that I just described, we knew in advance, so immediately following the BAAA elections on November 24, 2018, we requested in writing on numerous occasions to have a courtesy call with the Minister Sports and Culture to begin our strategic plan for the 2019 season.
On February 1, 2019 a budget was presented to the Ministry under cover of a letter setting out all of our expenses with the hopes of receiving a reasonable determination of how the Ministry would be able to assist. The intent was never to request that the Ministry assume responsibility for all of the Federation’s
bills. However, we were very clear about the assistance that we needed, which include the usual expenses of the Carifta Games, World Championships and the cost of the World Relays since this was not an ordinary expense of the Federation given the fact that we have been previous hosts of this Event.
We are now flabbergasted to now learn of the position of the Ministry at this final hour when at all times, we were given the assurances that the World Championship funding was available to us.
The Federation is most compromised at this point, as the country is faced with one of its greatest emotional and financial hardship in its history, in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian. At this juncture, without voluntary contributions coming forward, it would be most insensitive for our Federation to appeal to Corporate Bahamas or any individual citizen when their priorities are fixed on saving lives and assisting hurricane-worn victims.
Indeed, we have had our share of challenges working with the Ministry. And in the face of this, I have even been criticized by some of my members for being too diplomatic. My position was and remains today to keep our dirty laundry out of the street. But this characterization of our Federation is an affront to the very work that we do and it is only fair that the country appreciates our perspective.
The Minister is never available to discuss urgent matters, the Ministry’s answers are usually vague, we hardly get clear direction from the Ministry, in desperation there is no urgency in their response. And we send minors to meets on the promise of Government funding, we never received funding before team travel – It is only weeks later without apology and seemingly without care. Our Federation feel abused by the blatant disregard to the welfare of our children and to all of us who offer to help the Ministry and the Government of The Bahamas through sports. When these criticisms are hurled at the Ministry, they become more sensitive to the negative public relations and care far less about the issues that give rise to public grievances.
It makes it impossible for us to properly plan. In many instances, Executives have used personal funds for team travel and we still owe many persons money who have made team travel possible. We are only humans and in spite of our ambitious goals, we can only do so much.
The Ministry is the gatekeeper of our sport and yes we expect for them to assist in the most meaningful and measurable way they can. To date, I am not satisfied that we have receive sufficient amounts of its moral support and financial contributions.
With such a dramatic shortfall in World Championship funding from $116,000 to $25,000, knowing fully well that it is impossible to purchase plane tickets for the team, yet there is public discussion by the Minister without ever meeting the Executives of our Federation. I am now advised that the ticket cost has yet again risen to $4,000.00 economy class to go to Doha, still, we have not received funds from the government.
We have been told by the Minister to go and seek funding elsewhere through the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Tourism, and now the Prime Minister. Shouldn’t it be our Minister offering this assistance? Are we an independent body or are we inextricably linked to the Government. Is this not a national team that will enjoy national return? One can only imagine the national acclaim the country would enjoy and the international stories that would be written if Shaunae Miller-Uibo, a Bahamian who has conquered the world in the midst of the ravages of Hurricane Dorian! And what if in an interview Miller-Uibo says “I come from a strong and resilient nation…parts of my country have perished in the storm, but this is only
two islands among many Bahamian islands and The Bahamas doors are still open for business…we need you more than ever…It’s still Better in The Bahamas! I believe that this is worth more than $116,000.00! In fact…more than most of our million-dollar tagged tourism ads!
Bahamas, let us be clear:
We are a non-profit, voluntary-based group with one paid member of staff – The Office Administrator
We do the work for the country and for the benefit of all governments
The public relations and exposure that we provide to the country worldwide is beyond measure. And I would argue that the world knows the Bahamas through its growing sporting industry.
Still we are seen as beggars and non-performing. This is not fair. We are not perfect and are in need of many technical and administrative skill-sets, but don’t stand on the sideline and criticize us when we look to you for significant help since you are the direct beneficiaries of our work.
I am minded to disclose a ten-page list of the amount of prospective sponsors whom we have appealed to, but for the respect of privacy and confidentiality, I decline.
We are a politically stained organization who is subject to the capricious whims of governments. It is clear that the Government of The Bahamas has given funding of $150,000.00 in 2015 and $140,000.00 in 2017. Why only $25,000.00 in 2019. Is sports less of a priority now for this government? And why does it matter where “government” funds come from? What is certain is that the system is capricious and arbitrary and uncertain for sporting Federations to do a better job of operating. What if the Prime Minister doesn’t like the leader of the Federation or yet the Minister does it mean then that the Federation suffers? We simply ask for certainty. Determine government funding in advance and not one week or two days before the team travels. It is not cost effective and very frustrating to the athletes and officials who are unsure whether they would be travelling. Again tickets are $4,000.00 and rising.
Let’s be clear, we, The BAAAs have secured $227,000.00 on our own and we have received $70,000 from the Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture which have been depleted. Yet we are considered beggars and a nuisance. In our sport, there are no VAT duty nor Customs and Excise Taxes that we can impose upon our athletes to raise money. And there are no salaries to give to the people who work every day without pay. That is why we need government support and that is why we need corporate partners.
The Minister categorically stated that Track and Field receives the lion share of government funding. What she didn’t say is that track and field is the largest sporting movement in the country as well as one of the most successful sporting organizations that requires sustainable funding. Still we believe that there ought to be a greater investment in every sporting federation in the Bahamas, for we all share the very same objectives.
I expressed then as I do now that we are often seen as an unsophisticated grassroots track and field community. But let me remind you that the work that we do by keeping thousands of children off of our treacherous streets, providing a safe space in which athletic and academic opportunities go untold by many now successful men and women who were former athletes who have positively impacted our communities. Still we get little to no support.
We simply want to grow our sport and we are passionate about that. We want you to be passionate as well…for the good of our country. You expect more from us but you give less.
This equation is flawed.
So I say to everyone who choose to listen. Support. Come and help!
President, Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA