(Model of Bahamas Stadium Photo/ Bahamas Natl Stadium Facebook)
by Natalie Monique
Some call it Soccer, some Football, whatever you know it as, Bahamas has huge things in store through the game!! (Known as Soccer in the US….but Football in the Caribbean and other regions, we will leave that debate for another time:) With that said…after some delay in regards to final date agreements with the Government, the Caribbean Football Trust Limited (CFTL) and Bahamas Football Association (BFA) will be officially opening the Bahamas National Stadium on Friday, March 16, 2012. The Grand Opening, called ‘Friendship Extravaganza‘ will be a week filled with exciting Sporting, Music and Cultural events (local and International), including a huge Fireworks display and much more, lasting over the period, March 16th- March 25th, 2012.
The Friendship Extravaganza will kick off with the Official Opening Ceremony March 16, followed by the launch of of the Major League Futbol (MLF); a Friendship Cup Tournament (Male/Female), with teams from Bahamas, China, USA, Jamaica, Haiti, Mexico and Honduras ; a major ‘Beach Splash’ Party to be held at Cable Beach, in addition to various other parties to celebrate this historic moment. Entertainment throughout the period of the Event will feature acts from various islands of the Caribbean.
The Caribbean Football Trust Limited along with the BFA established the new professional Major League Futbol (MLF) in Bahamas. The main purpose being to create a new and revived cultural passion within Bahamas, further extending this fervor, to the wider Caribbean and Central American football communities. The CFTL has hopes of advancing the Marketing business aspect of local football, promoting International ‘friendly’ matches, helping Caribbean national teams in their bid to qualify for the upcoming FIFA World Tournaments (2014, 2018, 2022…), and overall enabling a vibrant Caribbean and Central American Youth Development programme and Professional Football League. According to our source, ‘CFTL will be working in association with various FIFA players agents to oversee the business interest of MLF players to obtain international transfers to various clubs in Europe and other international markets.’
After advancing to the World Cup Qualifying for the first time last year, the Bahamas National Football team in August, withdrew from the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying, BFA President Anton Sealy explaining this was due to the incompletion of the expansion project of the Thomas Robinson Stadium. The old Thomas Robinson Stadium was up until now, the principal stadium in Bahamas, that once held only a mere 9, 100 spectators…so guess they are now roaring and ready to go now with the newly re-built venue.
This is an amazing look for the Bahamas, as well as the Caribbean as a whole! .
…What does the CFTL intend to accomplish through this huge move in the island? They mentioned: The development of sports tourism in the Bahamas, International football clubs pre-season training camps in the Bahamas, targeting international sports friendly visitors by way of offering a vacation sports/fun active package with accommodation at our 4/5 star resort facility, creating over 500 jobs for local citizens, developing Bahamas as the regional hub for international friendly sporting events, making the Bahamas the marketplace within the Caribbean region with the only facility of its kind, developing a facility that the West Indies Cricket team and other International cricket teams can use as their new training grounds, the operation of the nation’s first major sports game machine arcade open to all Bahamian youths, the operation of the Complex’ regional Caribbean TV/Radio – 24 hour sports network, and a destination retreat that will attract foreign visitors on a regular basis, especially considering the short 30 minute flight time between Florida and Bahamas.
…and how did this huge Master Plan get off the ground?
In 2009, China handed over a $30 million gift to Bahamian Government, to aid in their vision to encourage Sports Tourism in in the island.
Chinese Ambassador Hu Shan and Bahamas Cabinet Secretary Anita Bernard sign the official documents. (Photo/Peter Ramsay)
Thomas Robinson (Former Bahamian Track Olympian who the Stadium is named after) and Wang Lequan (Photo/Gena Gibbs)
CFTL also states, they are ‘in talks’ to develop a Resort and International Sports Training Complex in Freeport, Bahamas as well, which will include a 4 or 5-Star hotel/resort with 212 rooms and an International sports injury Rehab Clinic as well as a World Class Spa, Health & Wellness Centre. To be named the “Bahama Sports City”, this facility will be the first of its kind in the Caribbean region and first ‘purpose-built’ facility in the Bahamas, featuring twelve (12) outdoor magnificent sports training fields, a 12,000 seat (bleacher stands) outdoor field, a 6,000 capacity seating cricket oval, without door practice nets, a 6,000 capacity seating beach soccer and volleyball facility, a 6,000 capacity seating Futsal facility, a field hockey training field, tennis courts, a full size indoor air condition soccer field plus indoor and outdoor basketball courts and gym, a world class SPA, Health & Wellness Centre further facilitating their main objectives.
Niceeee..taking the Caribbean to the worlddd!!!