With just over a month to go before the start of the International Federation of American Football (IFAF) Flag Football World Championships (FFWC) in Freeport, Grand Bahama, reports are now surfacing that the weeklong tournament isn’t being welcomed by the local flag football community the way most would be led to believe.
In fact, in a statement released yesterday by Bahamas Flag Football League (BFFL) President Jayson Clarke, on behalf of the Grand Bahama Flag Football League (GBFFL) and the Abaco Flag Football League (AFFL), he said that neither of the organizations have played any role in selecting the teams representing the country in September.
He went on to say that they have been left out of the loop since plans to host the event first came about. The 2016 IFAF Flag Football World Championships are set for September 7-12. A total of 28 teams are expected to play in the five-day tournament.
“It is disappointing to see that despite the many concerns raised by the various leagues that developed the sport of flag football in the country, that an outsider is allowed to continue to make a mockery of all the hard work Bahamians have put in over the years,” said Clarke.
Although he didn’t call any names in his address, it’s widely believed that the outsider Clarke refers to in his statement is World Championship Director LaLisa Anthony, an American citizen who has been contracted to help with the development of American football in The Bahamas.
In past interviews, Clarke has spoken out about the lack of communication between Anthony, who heads the Bahamas American Football Federation (BAFF) and the other federation heads.
“We have at numerous times sought to meet and discuss the issues to ensure that the FFWC would be an inclusive event that benefited Bahamians beyond just a few heads in beds for the course of less than a week,” Clarke added. “Despite the mantra we have heard over and over that the government believes in Bahamians, their actions have spoken louder than their words. This is setting the stage for national embarrassment, as without the leagues involvement, the national team will not be made up of the best the country can offer.
“The end result will be a disgrace to The Bahamas when we could and should have been the stars.” Although national team coordinator for the tournament Melvin Ferguson released the names of the players that will be representing The Bahamas earlier this week, Clarke states that his federation, along with the others, will continue to boycott the event until there are some changes made.
“We will stand together with all our brothers and sisters in the sport and across the Bahamas in a boycott of such a mess,” Clarke exclaimed. “We deserve better and have for a long time been demanding better, but the government has been deaf to our cries.”
Countries expected to participate in the Eighth FFWC are Austria, The Bahamas, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Guatemala, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Kuwait, Mexico, New Zealand, Panama and the United States. Brazil and Honduras are two potential additions, pending their medal round successes at the Americas qualifying tournament.