Gymnastics coach concerned over lack of funding
National gymnastics coach Duke Nelligan has expressed his concern over whether the Island’s respective sporting bodies can cope with the current economic climate as they prepare for their 2013 sporting seasons.
Dozens of international meets will take place throughout the year and Nelligan said funding at some point would become crucial to those wanting to compete overseas.
The coach believes that the recession is hindering the Island in terms of the amount of athletes who have the ability to travel to international competitions and reducing their chances of reaching their full potential.
“It is difficult and expensive to send them away all the time, and it is the same for all sports across the board,” said Nelligan.
“It is hard for us because once you have invested three or four years in a young person you still don’t know if they will be good competitors or not. If you can’t get them away to compete against the rest of the world you don’t know their true ability.
“We want to continue with the success of the (gynmastics) organisation so that in the future the athletes will be ready to be in a competition whenever they are called upon.”
Nelligan acknowledges that's the interest level in gymnastics in a country of 60,000 people is relatively small.
Although Bermuda boasts one of the better facilities in the Caribbean region, the volume of young aspiring gymnasts has been something Nelligan has been trying to increase for the past three years.
The financial crunch has hit many countries for the better part of two years and has already played a major role in sports; case and point would be the involvement, or lack thereof, of countries coming to Bermuda to compete in the Island Games later this year.
“There are only 60,000 people in Bermuda and of that a handful are gymnasts. After three and a half years we have a good stable of athletes that will be able to compete at the Commonwealth Games, Junior Pan Am Games, CAC Games.
“It is starting to pay dividends in regards to the talent we have, and with all this we have to manage their international competitiveness and get them exposure.
“Our approach has been multifaceted . . . our initial push was for more youngsters to come out and make a bigger volume of gymnasts to prepare.
“With a larger volume, better athletes will come from the top and you have a bigger pool of athletes to choose from for international events.
“One of the big challenges was getting a facility and we now have one of the better facilities in the Caribbean.
“Our problem now is that we don’t have enough age eligible athletes to push through to the international scene, so the concern is all the outside influences affecting them like getting a bike when your 16 and other things.
“We were helped by going to in-house competitions and shows in all sports and entertainment including dance recitals to see how and why they can keep their students in their programme at an older age.”