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Long hard road ahead for new Minister

New Year, new Government, new Sports Minister.

Wayne Scott may not yet realise the weight of responsibility that lies on his shoulders. And if he does, he'll recognise his ministry is one that can change the lives of thousands who live on this Island.

There's no disputing that the economy, gang violence and education (or lack of) will top the OBA's priority list but all three are inextricably linked with sport.

Sports-related tourism can play a key role in revitalising the industry, structured programmes within the sports clubs can help entice troubled teenagers off the streets and better facilities within the schools and a more sports-related curriculum can help raise the standard of competition once pupils begin playing at a higher level.

And perhaps more important is the realisation that sport can open up avenues for students wanting to secure scholarships overseas.

Dozens of Bermudians have followed that route in the past and more opportunities seem to be opening up every year.

As a former top cyclist he's a multiple winner of the prestigious Sinclair Packwood Memorial Race on May 24 Scott should already be on the ball.

It's how he gets that ball rolling that matters.

He may recognise that money, even if it was available, isn't the panacea of all evils.

In fact, far too much emphasis has been put on finance in efforts to revitalise our two national sports.

Cricket is a case in point.

The more money poured into the sport, the more the game has declined.

Clubs, players and administrators, particularly those at the top of the ladder, can share the blame. It's been combined culpability.

Scott acknowledged that community-based initiatives is where it all starts.

“I have a lot of love for sports and I think sports is really important because when you look at community and cultural development, sports is about bringing the community together and that’s what we need,” he said. “I look at this as a huge responsibility and I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and get working."

By rejecting the small minority who drive away the vast majority, sports clubs could become more family-oriented and increase membership.

As it stands now too many seem frightened to take a stand.

Boulevard Community Club took that stand at the end of the last football season even though it weakened their football squad considerably as they plummeted into a lower division.

The game would become more popular in terms of attracting more spectators if only other clubs followed suit. As yet, they haven't.

The clubs have a responsibility to help combat the social ills which are tarring both national sports.

Introducing more activities within their walls could also increase membership.

For far too long too much emphasis has been put on the national sports.

Athletics, swimming, cycling, sailing, triathlon, golf, tennis, equestrian are just a few where participation has flourished and where overseas success, both individually and collectively, has been achieved.

If money is available, then this is where it should be channelled.

Those who scoff at the proposal that more cash should be ploughed into sport, pointing to what they consider far more urgent social issues, should be reminded that there's nothing better to unify a nation than success on the field, in the water or on the road.

Often it's a welcome distraction from those same issues which impact the lives of everyone.

The mice that roared at last summer's London Olympics were embraced by all those inhabiting the smaller countries and islands.

On a smaller scale, the Bermudians who excelled at last year's Carifta Games, were applauded by thousands, black and white, who packed the National Sports Centre.

Minister Scott is now at the helm and has to encourage that kind of unification. But he'll need a lot of help along the way.

ADRIAN ROBSON

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Published December 28, 2012 at 8:00 am (Updated December 27, 2012 at 5:59 pm)

Long hard road ahead for new Minister

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