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Sport’s omission from Throne Speech a concern

Had anybody been interested in what Government planned to do in the way of sports initiatives, and we can assume there were quite a few, they would have expected to glean some information from last week's lengthy Throne Speech.And they would have been wrong.Having combed through thousands of words, they'd be no wiser than when they started.It was not entirely unexpected that sport would place low on Government's priority list, as the economy, escalating violence, education (or lack of) and unemployment are the issues of most concern.But the fact that it wasn't on the list at all came as something of a surprise.A couple of paragraphs hidden in a document of thousands of words represented the only reference to sport.A helping hand for the Island's struggling sports clubs in the way of a 'Cash Back for Communities' scheme whereby confiscated assets and money is siphoned back into the sports clubs was mentioned.Essentially, that was it.And that's similar to the same pledge the PLP made before being voted out of power.Nothing in the way of development of sports tourism, nothing that would help provide better facilities, help aspiring athletes, assist governing bodies or athletes striving for more success overseas.Sport plays a huge part in most people's lives. Before and after work and on weekends, there are not too many who don't partake in some activity, maybe only at a recreational level but nevertheless providing a diversion from life's hamster wheel.Most probably don't need or want any help. They play for enjoyment and entertainment. The social side, in some cases, might even override the competition.Yet, such are the benefits and rewards from both a physical and psychological point of view, sport deserves a lot more attention than it was afforded when the House opened last Friday.New Sports Minister Wayne Scott would have been offered much food for thought and no doubt has had his own ideas since taking that portfolio. But they certainly weren't outlined in a paper which supposedly maps out objectives for the next year.With the largest sports festival ever to have been held on these shores, the Island Games, coupled with the hosting of cricket's World Cricket Division Three tournament, 2013 promises to be a benchmark year.The sports and tourism ministries will, or at least should, be heavily involved in the build-up to the Games, knowing so much can be achieved in terms of marketing and exposure.Given sports' omission from the Throne Speech, there can't be much hope that it will feature prominently when Government reveal their Budget.Bermuda Cricket Board and Bermuda Football Association, guardians of the Island's two national sports, suffered cutbacks in their grants last year and there's no reason to believe that will change.As for other national bodies hoping to get a larger piece of the pie, that too appears unlikely.But there are many programmes that could be implemented for relatively little cash and help youngsters get off the street and into constructive activities.Partnering with the corporate sector, which already funds a number of events, Government could liaise with the various sporting bodies to pinpoint ways how best to implement these programmes.And if they can't do that, they should at least demonstrate their support and concern.That wasn't the case last week.— ADRIAN ROBSON