Ministry responds to Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation

THE Bahamas Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation’s inability to travel to regional competition has been a much debated topic of discussion recently and the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture sought to clarify the issues.

The 17-member team intended to travel to Barbados last weekend for the Central American and Caribbean Games but cited a lack of funding in the appropriate timeframe to successfully book all aspects of travel logistics.

In an official press release the MYSC responded: “The BBFF was the first sports federation to receive its annual grant in the first week of this new budget period. Less than two weeks later, the Federation reached out to the Ministry seeking additional financial assistance of $36,000 for a travelling team,” the organisation said in a press release.

“Though an unexpected and unbudgeted expense, the Ministry made a particular provision of an additional $20,000.00 to defray more than 50 percent of this late request, effectively making a total contribution of $30,000.00 in July 2022.”

In last week’s press conference, BBFF President Joel Stubbs said the organisation needed $36,000 to travel but came up short in their fundraising bid.

He added that his federation BFF received $20,000 from the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture but the funds were not cleared until noon on the day of travel.

“It is a requirement for federations to plan their calendar of events so they can budget their expenses and make arrangements in a timely manner for travel,” the release said.

“Unfortunately, the BBFF found itself in a situation where they could not secure sufficient funding to get its team to the CAC Championships in Barbados. The Ministry wholeheartedly supports these athletes, which is why we provided the largest financial assistance ever given to their organisation.”

BBFF secretary general Stephen Robinson refuted the MYSC’s claims of his organisation not producing its plans in a timely manner for travel.

“Firstly, the BBFF submitted its 2022 annual budget to the Ministry on April 7, specifically outlining a calendar of events and costs associated with each event. The document also stated the date and the location of the CAC Championships.

“Within days of the document being submitted, additional correspondence were sent pleading for early release of the annual grant as the first show (Novice Championships) was planned for May 21.

“The ministry acknowledged the request and stated that they would do its best to facilitate. Unfortunately the Ministry was unable to release funds and, as a result, The Novice Championship was cancelled.

“The Northern Bahamas Championship in Freeport, Grand Bahama that was scheduled for June 28 also had to be postponed and rescheduled for July 2 due to insufficient funds in the Federation’s account.”

Robinson said: “This response is not meant to embarrass or disrespect the Ministry, but to clear the air and state openly that despite our communication, acts of transparency and adequate planning for our annual events, the lack of funding was the main reason why team Bahamas was unable to travel perform, hear the national anthem played or have our flag hoisted at the 49th edition of the CAC Games.

“We are grateful as a federation for the Ministry’s grant despite it being reduced from $15k to the sum of 10k by the previous administration.

“We still await a quantifiable reason as to why the grant was reduced.”

The BBFF has a rich tradition of successful performances at the CAC Championships.

In 2021, struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic, The Bahamas still managed to field an eight-member team to El Salvador, for the CACs.

The team won a total of nine medals - two gold, three silver and three bronze.

In this year’s competition, Barbados was declared the overall winner, Antigua and Barbuda was second and Mexico finished third.

“During the live feed, we were able to inspect all competitors in the various categories while performing and was able to conclude with a fair assessment/judgment,” Stubbs said in a release following the event.

“Based on my expertise as a qualified international judge, I would like to unequivocally state without bias that, had Team Bahamas attended the championship, we would have stood tall and proud on the podium in just about all of the categories we had intended to take competitors in.

“Our athletes would have won resoundingly, walking away with top honours in many of their respective categories.”

Team Bahamas now looks ahead to other regional meets beginning in Miami, Florida, August 26-28.