Dunne welcomes greater financial support for sport within Budget
Peter Dunne, president of the Bermuda Olympic Association, has welcomed estimated increases towards elite athlete assistance within the Budget Statement, but recognises the need for more to be done to safeguard sport at grassroots level.
Included within the grants and contributions section of the Budget, delivered on Friday by David Burt, the Premier and finance minister, are estimated increases, which have been projected throughout the majority of areas that fall under the Ministry of Youth, Culture and Sport.
Among the overall total of $2.84 million for this year’s estimate — up from last year’s revised estimate total of $2.71 million — the most significant increase was towards elite athlete assistance, with an estimated total of $100,000 for the coming year, up from the revised estimate of $20,000 from the previous period.
The move falls in line with the Government’s proposed national sports strategy policy, which is aimed at replicating Flora’s Duffy’s historic Olympic gold-medal success with greater investment into elite athletes.
This programme was unveiled as part of the Throne Speech delivered by Rena Lalgie, the Governor, on behalf of the ruling Progressive Labour Party administration in November.
“Obviously any increase is a welcome relief and with the current economical climate the way it is, it has to be seen as a solid victory,” said Dunne.
He also believes a proposed lottery initiative in Bermuda, in order to boost the national sports strategy policy could be achievable.
“Overall, the economy is not a rosy picture and although sport is not a huge component of the overall budget, the fact we appear to have had gains in the estimated totals, relative to other sections, should be welcomed by sporting bodies.
“The crucial thing from the point of view of sporting bodies and the BOA is that those funds are utilised properly to help athletes go on and achieve the goals they have set out.
“I definitely think it could be possible [lottery initiative]. However, we are well aware that it requires a lot of work and structure to be in place. One thing remains clear, we need to find alternative methods of funding.”
While Dunne welcomed the greater financial assistance for elite-level athletes, he was quick to point out that more significant focus was required for the grassroots level of all sport, in order to maintain a pathway for athletes to have the opportunity to reach a higher standard.
“There seems to be a perception that sport falls into two categories of social and high performance,” he added. “However, I don’t believe that is fully accurate.
“We have to be able to provide significant funding for both because without grassroots sports, you won’t have that transition of athletes into high performance. There has to be that secure starting point.
“If you think of having another Flora Duffy as a possible needle-in-a-haystack situation, well first we need a haystack!
“You need to have an environment where athletes can be introduced into sport, then developed, so that they have a chance of attaining excellence.
We need to have a greater focus on the entirety of the sports pathway, from grassroots through to the elite level,” said Dunne.