BOC, national federations air grievances with minister of sports

Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC) president Romell Knowles, along with members from several national federations around the country, hosted a meeting/press conference yesterday to air their grievances with the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture.

According to Knowles, there has been a breakdown in communication between the BOC, member federations and the ministry, and that some federations have not received financial grants in over a year.

He added that current Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Lanisha Rolle has broken protocol between the ministry and the federations on several occasions, the most recent time coming during the minister’s time at the 2019 International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) World Relays, where she went as a guest of the IAAF without the consent of the Bahamas Association of Athletic Federations.

“It is important for the department of sports We understand that the current minister of sports is very new to her role, and a newcomer to the environment,” he said. “While we want the minister to succeed, there are certain protocols and expectations we have as a community that she should learn about and respect.

“We ask her to reach out for advice and we will offer her our expertise. At the IAAF World Relays, she went without advising the BAAA. A credential should have gone through the BAAA’s. Notwithstanding, she may have been invited by a member of the IAAF. We are of the view that the minister has not been properly advised, and we ask that she seeks proper guidance moving forward. On another matter, one federation was told that they should not deal directly with its international federation, but should instead seek council through her. Once again, this is very bad advice, seeing that her office does not give her that authority.”

Knowles said that requests for updates on grants has mostly gone unanswered for extended periods of time, and that there needs to be a better line of communication moving forward.

“While we respect the busy schedule of the executives of government, this hasn’t been the kind of response that we anticipated,” he said. “There has been a challenge in regards to federations receiving grants. One federation told me, and I’ll paraphrase, that she said she was busy, and that she’d get around to approving the grant she’ll do it. We ask that grants be issued in a timely manner, on a date to be agreed upon. Too often, federation executives spend weeks at the ministry with no certain as to when it will be ready.”

Along with protocol issues, federations also expressed concerns over the recent budget cut the ministry received.

“We have yet to be advised on which federations will be affected most by these recent cuts,” Knowles said. “Some federations have not received grants in quite some time, and now with July 1 right around the corner, there has been no word on the grants. There was a time when federations used to get $80,000, then they were cut to $40,000. Now, some federations only get about $20,000 if they get anything at all.”

Knowles said that he hopes to meet with Minister Rolle in the very near future to discuss some of the differences the two sides have had since she’s come into office.