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Lottery initiative being explored to boost national sports strategy policy

Avenues being explored: Ernest Peets, the Minister of Youth, Culture and Sport, has revealed that discussions have been held regarding the possibility of launching a lottery initiative in Bermuda to help boost the Government’s proposed national sports strategy policy. He made the announcement while speaking at a post Throne Speech press conference (Photograh by Akil Simmons)

Ernest Peets, Minister of Youth, Culture and Sport, has revealed that discussions have already taken place regarding the possibility of launching a lottery initiative in Bermuda, in order to boost the Government’s proposed national sports strategy policy.

The policy, which is aimed at replicating Flora’s Duffy’s historic Olympic gold medal success with greater investment being pumped into elite and young athletes, was unveiled by the Government as part of the Throne Speech delivered by Rena Lalgie, the Governor, on behalf of the ruling Progressive Labour Party administration earlier this month.

While no exact funding figure has yet been identified, Peets reiterated his desire to implement the strategy over the next five years in a bid to build on Duffy’s Olympic triumphin the triathlon at the 2020 Olympic Games and fully harness Bermuda’s sporting potential.

“When it comes to funding, that number has not been accurately identified at this moment,” Peets said, during a post Throne Speech press conference yesterday. “We certainly recognise that if we are going to be competing on the international stage, it is going to require a significant framework to support that.

“We are going to be working on the best way possible to support our elite athletes because Bermuda, I believe has the potential. We certainly are rich in talent and in the last few decades we have seen many, many more athletes leaving our shores in pursuit of their sporting dreams,” said Peets.

He noted that the administration is still in the process of determining the scale of support necessary and identifying specific performance targets.

“Now as a nation we need to sit down and figure out our short and long term strategy to harness all of that together so that we can be proud again and not have to wait 30 or 40 years for another gold medal,” said Peets.

“This particular National Sports Strategy has some goals and the time frame we are working on is five years and will be implemented over that time.

“We have to recognise what we want to do regarding our international and national sports, where we want to compete and how we get there. We have the talent so it is a case of identifying that talent early and creating pathways for those individuals to continue to progress and develop,” Peets said.

Among the possible avenues being explored to help create funding is the introduction of a national lottery scheme.

As seen in nations like the United Kingdom, such an initiative has paid dividends to boosting grass roots endeavours, with more than £5.7 billion being invested into community sport since its launch in 1994, which has directly led to the building of new facilities, maintaining playing fields and increased opportunities for millions of people.

Through Sport England, National Lottery income has also played a vital role at the elite level, with funds strategically invested into maximising the performance of UK athletes in the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

While that level of investment, whether it be through a lottery initiative or greater commercialisation of national sport, is not feasible on island, Peets revealed such avenues are already being explored to generate increased funding to national sporting bodies.

“There are conversations going on, which I am aware of, and I’ve had conversations with the sporting National Governing Bodies about that,” he said on the possibility of introducing a national lottery initiative in Bermuda. “Right now that is still a work in progress but I am more than willing to have that conservation moving forward.

“We always wish we could give more but the truth of the matter is that we have a limited budget on what we can do and Bermuda has more than 20 national sports of which we are responsible for and provide funding.

“In bigger jurisdictions there is also the commercialisation of national sport, we haven’t got to that stage quite yet. There probably isn’t a lot of opportunity for that sort of big commercialisation to create the sort of revenue to support our sports but we have to find a way to fund our sports in a way that we can begin to harness the talent that we have into something that can more regularly punch above its weight,” Peets said.

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Published November 17, 2021 at 8:01 am (Updated November 17, 2021 at 8:01 am)

Lottery initiative being explored to boost national sports strategy policy

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