Minister for Grand Bahama, the Hon. Ginger Moxey says Grand Bahama is slowly fulfilling the “prophecy” which she has uttered time and time again, of becoming “the home of events and entertainment” and a “sporting paradise”.
As Grand Bahama once again hosts a major international sporting event, Minister Moxey is thankful that those who will benefit most will be a cross-section of everyday Grand Bahamian residents.
“The Island Relays have already injected a major boost to our economy, even before it officially began,” said Minister Moxey, during a break from sessions at the 24th Grand Bahama Business Outlook on Thursday, at Grand Lucayan Resort.
“We have already seen an increase in hotel occupancy and so many of our vendors will benefit from this event, including food and beverage vendors, taxi drivers and even store owners. It’s going to have a tremendous impact in a good way. It’s really an example of what we want to see on our island.”
The 2023 Island Relays Bahamas Invitational kicks off on Grand Bahama on Friday, March 17, 2023 at the GB Sports Complex. It features track and field competitions among collegiate athletes from the United States and the Bahamas. Over 500 athletes and coaches from colleges and universities from throughout the United States have flown in for the event.
Those colleges include the University of South Carolina, the University of Arizona, Texas A&M University, Vanderbilt University, Prairie View A&M University, South Carolina State University, the University of Oklahoma and the University of The Bahamas.
The Island Relays Bahamas is co-founded by Marvin Henfield and Joyce Johnson. Organizers are hoping that visiting athletes and coaches would not only compete, but would get an opportunity to enjoy a Bahamian cultural experience while in Grand Bahama.
Minister Moxey concurs, and invited visitors to take some time out to enjoy all that Grand Bahama Island has to offer. She noted that the vision of Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Mario Bowleg is on target with a promise he made, by bringing this inaugural event to Grand Bahama. It was a part of Minister Bowleg’s commitment when he first took office, to make Grand Bahama a sporting paradise.
The Island relays comes on the heels of Grand Bahama successfully hosting the International North American, Central American and Championships (NACAC) track and field championships August 19-21, 2022.
“NACAC was an overwhelming success and it has led to Grand Bahama hosting these Island relays,” said Minister Moxey. “We believe we can have these kinds of events in spite of limited room nights on the island at this time, because we have access to the cruise ship and ferries. So, we don’t see limited room capacity as an obstacle.
“So, imagine once the grand Lucayan is sold, renovated and comes on line – it will greatly increase our ability to host even bigger sporting events like this. So, I encourage major sporting colleges, schools and organizations in the United States who wish to have meets, conferences or workshops in paradise, with great weather and accessibility to consider Grand Bahama.
“We want to make sure that our people benefit from events like this.”
Minister Moxey also views the Island Relays as something that can benefit Grand Bahamian students who may be preparing for college. The event gives them a chance to meet coaches and athletes from various colleges and Universities and perhaps get an opportunity to chat with them and learn more about their respective institutions. She’s also hoping that the event would motivate student athletes to work harder and to thrive to be the best at what they do, with hopes of one day obtaining a sporting scholarship to one of these colleges, including the University of The Bahamas.
“What’s more, I’m hoping that these visiting coaches would get a chance to see some of the sporting talent that we have here in Grand Bahama,” said Minister Moxey. “Grand Bahama has produced some great athletes in track and field and in other sporting disciplines, so any opportunity that our kids can get for this kind of exposure is great.
“That’s why I’m hoping that this event can come back to Grand Bahama and that we will be able to attract even more events like this to Grand Bahama. We’ve made some improvements to the GB Sports Complex and will continue to improve the facility in the future, so that we can accommodate even bigger sporting events.”
The Island Relays closes out on Saturday, March 18, 2023.
By ANDREW COAKLEY/Bahamas Information Services