Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, the Hon. Michael Pintard said it is in the country’s collective economic interest to bring outstanding, international renowned Bahamian coaches back home, whether on a full time or a part-time basis, in order to attract Bahamian elite athletes and their friends to come and train in The Bahamas. He said that the Bahamas has a commitment from the IAAF to put in place a High-Performance Academy for sprinters and jumpers. “But that would only happen to the extent that we have physiotherapists, massage therapists, nutritionists, elite coaches who are available, and outstanding facilities, to make sure that we succeed,” said Minister Pintard. “The government is committed to working in this regard and we will do our part and we appeal to the private sector to work partner with us.”
The Sports Minister’s remarks came during a ceremony for the dedication of a mural, featuring the Golden Knights, on Monday, April 23 at the roundabout of Jubilee Way and Coral Road. All four of the Golden Knights – Chris Brown, Michael Mathieu, Demetrius Pinder and Ramon Miller – who won the gold medal in the men’s 4 x 400-meter relay at the Olympic Games in 2012, were in Grand Bahama for the special ceremony. The unique, 3-D artwork, which sits in one of the busiest roundabouts on the island, was created by Artist Jacki Boss. In paying special tribute to the Golden Knights and all of the Bahamian athletes who have helped to put The Bahamas in the world’s spotlight, Minister Pintard also pointed out the significant role coaches play in causing The Bahamas to experience such sporting success.
He said the time has come to bring back home many of those Bahamian coaches who are coaching overseas and are anxious to return home to continue doing what they love. He noted that at just about every major competition he has attended, he has noticed that there are Bahamian coaches grooming athletes from other countries to compete in those major events. “Many of them are prepared to accept less salary than where they are located, in order to come home. The government, in and of itself, does not have the capacity to pay all of those salaries, but the public, private partnerships may provide the key — “but it has to be a deliberate, strategic effort by the public and the private sector.” He noted, “I am appreciative that many of our athletes have been so nationalistic in their focus that they have been prepared, despite many inducements offered around the world to remain committed to the colors that matter most – the colors of our Bahamian flag. These are the colors that really matter. “So, we want to say ‘thank you’ to them for sacrificing personal comforts, because of their nationalism.”