AMIDST the backdrop of the Thomas A Robinson National Stadium, the Local Organising
Committee (LOC) officially launched the hosting of the 50th CARIFTA Games to
commemorate the Bahamas’ 50th anniversary of Independence.
Scheduled for the Easter holiday weekend of April 7-10, the region’s most prestigious track and field competition for junior athletes will be hosted here for the ninth time and all indications are that the Bahamas Government and the LOC are planning to make this one of the best ever.
Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Mario Bowleg said through the title partner of the Oaktree Medical Center and Scotiabank, Aliv and Bahamas Waste, who are their corporate sponsors, plans are underway for the Sports in Paradise mandate that has been the hallmark of their government.
“CARIFTA Games, the Bahamas welcome you back home,” Bowleg stated. The games will
have the Oaktree Medical Center as its title sponsor. Having pegged $300,000 into the
LOC, proprietor Dr Don Deveaux said 2023 will be the Golden Jubilee of the Bahamas and
it’s only fitting that they are a part of the major international sporting event to
commemorate the occasion.
“What was once an idea, a dream, a seed in the mind of Sir Austin Sealy and company 50 years ago has built and strengthened relations between the island nations of the Caribbean,” he said. “Through Caricom, the track and field movement has grown exponentially, unearthing talented athletic gems and has created a powerhouse in track and field.
“As the title partner for this historic 50th edition of CARIFTA, Oaktree Medical Center is proud to assist our Bahamian and Caribbean athletes to ensure that they have the opportunities to grow, compete and win both locally and internationally.”
Deveaux said with his wife, the chief executive officer, the Oaktree Medical Center is more than just a medical center, but is a community center and their team stands with the LOC, the BAAA, NACAC, the government of the Bahamas and all partners for the future, not just for sports, but for the development of youth and their development. “Come go with us and let’s cross the finish line together,” said Deveaux as he pledged the Oaktree Medical Center’s commitment to making the 50th CARITA Games the best ever held.
Mike Sands, the president of the North American, Central American and Caribbean - the
CARIFTA Games falls under their jurisdiction - speaking in a video presentation from where
he was attending the World Athletics’ meeting, said since the games were formed in 1972,
there’s been a stage created that allows the country’s most promising athletes to display
their gifts and talent to the region before stepping out on the world stage.
“In these trying times, the CARIFTA Games is a beacon of hope where the world is coming out of the residual and the dramatic effects of the pandemic amongst other world- shattering events,” Sands said. “This is a gleam of hope and joy as we come together to celebrate, cheer and encourage our young athletes to push themselves to help develop and improve the world in which they live.”
LOC chairman Lynden Maycock said his hardworking staff that includes logistics, operations, social functions, finance, technology, competition, venue, marketing, media and vendor teams, have all done an excellent job so far.
The Blue Marlins Sports Network, according to Maycock, was officially launched as the radio network for the games as did their first live broadcast of the event. He noted that they will be the official radio station for the games, while Aliv will be the television station with the rights to cover the games. “We also want to make mention here that for the first time in the history of the games, we are partnering with a financial platform, Arawak X, that will provide the funding needed for the games.
Maycock also introduced the LOC’s mascots, the Blue Sharks, while Maryann Higgs, the first Bahamian recipient of the Austin Sealy Award as the Most Outstanding Athlete, was presented as the Mother of the Games and “Golden Girl” Pauline Davis Dame of the games.
BAAA president Drumeco Archer, still celebrating the announcements by World Athletics that the World Relays will be coming back to the Bahamas for the fourth time in 2024, said the Bahamas will be welcoming the best that the world has to offer.
“From the BAAA side, we are ready,” Archer said. “If you come to the track every day, our athletes are ready to put on a show for you the Bahamian people.”
Archer, who will be seeking another four-year term in office when the BAAA goes to the polls for their election of officers on Saturday, commended the Bahamas Olympic movement, the Bahamas government, the LOC and the Bahamian public. “A lot of work has been taking place in a short period of time,” he pointed out. “I will leave it right here and I would say let’s get ready to rumble. Let’s put on your running shoes and let’s get ready for the 50th edition of the CARIFTA Games.”
By BRENT STUBBS
Tribune | Senior Sports Reporter