Sports Minister, Deputy Speaker Address Sports Council And Budgets

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Sports Minister Dr. Natalio “Showande” Wheatley, left and Deputy Speaker Hon Neville “Sheep” Smith on the Sept 12, Sports Beat Magazine on CBN 90.9 FM

By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway

In more mature jurisdictions, non governmental organizations drives the vision for sports  development, unlike the BVI, where everyone looks to government to play that role, fairly or unfairly.

The need for the establishment of a Sports Council, was raised on last Thursday’s Sports Beat Magazine on CBN 90-9 FM, when Sports Minister Dr. Natalio “Showande” Wheatley and Deputy Speaker and former BVI Softball Association President Hon. Neville “Sheep” Smith, were guests.  

Dr. Wheatley noted that there are many sporting organizations in the territory and they come to him for support and said he’d like to see them governed by a national body. He revealed that the Director of Youth Affairs and Sports has put forth a Sports Council proposal.

“I would like to see something like that happen in 2020,” he said when pressed for a timeframe on the establishment of such a body. “That’s what we’re working towards. The proposal is there, I’m reviewing the proposal and then we’ll make some decisions on it. This is really what I would like to see taking place.”

During a meeting with the Softball Association, Dr. Wheatley said the idea of a sporting calendar came up as quite a number of leagues overlap. He’s said there’s a recognition that there must be a greater level of coordination something that can come through a Sports Council.

“Certainly, as Minister of Sports, I’m supportive of those kinds of efforts,” he said. “I don’t want to be completely in control of sports in the BVI. That’s not efficient. We need a group of individuals that can really take it forward and government play a facilitating role, a supporting role and government gives grants, that can come through a sporting council.”

The territory doesn’t have a portion of its budget as other countries that have between 4%-6% of their budget dedicated to sports. The Minister said with a greater level of organization, this is something that can be done via a Sports Council he said.

“That can be something that we mandate of the Sports council,” he said. “I’ve met with a number of sporting organizations and I believe if we can have a real program for the amount of events they want to do in a given year, that can be priced and budgeted. I don’t think that’s something that’s going to be incredibly difficult, with the right level of organization and the type of people that we have involved.”

Hon Smith said among the problems has been planning and someone being accountable.

“I think we need to have an organization in place to manage this,” he said. “Organizations must have a four year plan on the tournaments and qualifiers they will attend and that’s where the budget comes into play. If you’re not putting these things in place, you’re not given moneys from government. If you’re missing tournament, why fund it? Why should government give you money to fund a regular league? It has to be more than a regular league and training. Budgets have to be put in place for those things.”

The Sports Minister added that he’d like to see persons having careers in sports as part of sports tourism as part of the diversification of the economy. 

“We want persons to compete on an international level in sports,” he said. “That’s happening already and we want to build on that success.”

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