(CMR) Cayman's Minister of Sports has threatened to withdraw funding from sports associations that are operating under questionable circumstances. The Hon. Bernie Bush shared his opinion that all members of the Cayman Athletic Association executive should have resigned during the Ato Stephens child abuse scandal.
Addressing issues now playing out in the Cayman Athletic and the Cycling Associations on a local sports program last week, the Minister said Government cannot interfere in the running of these organizations but can refuse to fund them. CMR understands that CAA receives over $100,000 annually from the government.
“Don't come and ask me for any funds; because when I see these types of things going on, you are not going to get a 5 cent from me,” Mr. Bush said.
He explained that Government cannot interfere or international bodies could take drastic actions such as preventing Cayman from participating in championships.
Speaking on the recent issues between Lacee Barnes-Riley and the Cayman Athletic Association, the Minister expressed regret that this situation overshadowed the success of several track and field athletes who won gold at the 2023 CARIFTA games in the Bahamas.
“I am sorry that all of this has overshadowed the three athletes and what they have done,” he said, adding that it has, however, open a conversation that must be addressed. He said a number of athletes have expressed dissatisfaction with their associations.
“This stuff has been going on for a while. The way they handled Ms. Barnes where she was embarrassed, maybe it shouldn't have been that way, but also, on the other hand, the people in the Bahamas maybe should not have accredited her without the association giving the ok,” he said.
On Friday's episode of TCHT, a Bahmanian representative claimed that the local association must give permission for all accreditation despite the fact that the option to obtain them online was possible. It was also revealed that it would not have been stated anywhere that this was a requirement, so Barnes actually did what was required of her.
Mr. Bush goes on to state that some persons in associations operated on their ego and personality and not in the interest of athletes as it should be.
“What I wish Ms. Barnes had addressed was the selection process of the coaches…who they sent as the coach, none of his athletes qualified, and some of the other athletes do not like the person that they sent as a head coach,” he said regarding the coach selection for CARIFTA.
“It must always be at all times about the athletes, and a lot of associations missed that. You have some people who have been in these associations since Jesus have on short pants, and they do not want to step out to give new blood the chance. They think that these associations is their birthright, and you wonder why some sports have gone nowhere,” Mr. Bush said.
He also addressed the issue of the cycling association not selecting one of Cayman's top cyclists for the upcoming Pan American Games.
“The same stupidness has been happening with the cycling association…to me is like these associations get personal,” Mr. Bush said.
Mr. Bush spoke briefly on the child molestation case, which affected the Athletic Association, suggesting the right thing for the executive to have done was resign.
“When the Athletic Association had their child molestation case, if I had been sitting on that executive at that time, I would have resigned, and I would have told my board let us all resign because we have failed in one of our main jobs of protecting our athletes, especially our girl athletes,” he stated.