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Funding for sport slashed by OBA

Michael Weeks, the shadow minister for Community, Culture and Sport, has called the $1million cut in funding for the Island's sports programes a “travesty.”

The Department of Youth, Sport and Recreation, has been allocated $9.5m, which is down roughly 11 per cent from the $10.7m allocated last year.

In fact, the reduction of $1.045m in funding that goes to the likes of the Bermuda Olympic Association, cricket and football is a drop of 28 per cent on the funding from the 2014 Budget, and now Bermuda's sports club and administrators must make do with splitting $2.675m.

“When one thinks of the importance of sport on any culture, it is a travesty that the OBA has seen fit to cut so drastically the budgets for sport in this country,” Weeks said. “Any cut is unfortunate, but an 11 per cent cut to budgets of sporting clubs that are already struggling to provide the appropriate programmes and development to their youth is unconscionable.”

In delivering a breakdown of her Ministry's budget in the House this week, Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, the Minister for Community, Culture and Sport, said her department's vision was “to strengthen the social fabric of our community”.

However, Weeks said the fact that Bermuda Cricket Board had been given just $100,000 for the year, Bermuda Football Association some $350,000, while 34 of the Island's other National Sports Governing Bodies would share $150,000 between them showed “a clear disconnect between what the “OBA says and does”.

He said: “Certainly $100,000 does not begin to ‘scratch the surface' as to what is needed to provide a top rate national cricket team; and it is equally disturbing that the 34 other NSGB's must ‘make do' with a meager $150,000 split between all of them. Clearly, the OBA's commitment to raising the level of sport on this island is not a priority, despite the important role that sport plays in the development of a society.”

In contrast to the small amounts the BCB and BFA have been given, of the $9.541m that Youth and Sport has at its disposal, more than $5m of that has been set aside for salaries and wages for 103 full-time and part-time staff, while Bermuda Sports Anti-Doping Authority has been given $750,000 in funding, and the National Stadium Trustees $850,000.

“The Anti-Doping Authority is to be commended for their commitment to eradicating drug activity in sport,” Weeks said. “But, this entity's primary focus is on pre-testing for international sporting events. Two things come to mind, the sum of money received by this body will not be locally beneficial to any great extent; and if we don't continue to adequately fund our local sporting programmes, then we will never be ready to compete on an international stage.”

However, the present realities of Bermuda's economic situation means that cuts do have to made, but Weeks believes that the OBA are looking in the wrong place. Sport has long been seen as a vehicle for social change, and the shadow minister, who has strong links to Western Stars Sports Club, would rather focus on preventing societies ills than fighting them once they have already taken root.

“A keen eye will notice, that Police, Corrections and the National Drug Control combined is more than the total budget for community, culture and sport,” Weeks said. “I would strongly encourage the Minister of Finance not to cut the funds at the front end or we will find ourselves needing, as is evident from looking at the Budget, more monies on the back end.

“All over the globe sporting and community clubs play a vital role in teaching our youth leadership skills, cooperation and teamwork, social interaction skills, etc. So, we must invest in our youth by allocating the necessary funds to build and maintain vital programmes in our communities.”

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Published March 13, 2015 at 9:00 am (Updated March 13, 2015 at 3:51 am)

Funding for sport slashed by OBA

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