Athletics Association Presidency Hopeful Promises Financial Assistance, Increased Membership If Elected

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Antigua and Barbuda Athletics Association presidency hopeful, Cleofoster Harris (Photo courtesy Larissa Barnes)
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By Neto Baptiste

Funding for athletes, financial assistance for clubs and increased membership are three key areas identified by former track athlete, Cleofoster Harris, for immediate attention should he become the next president of the Antigua and Barbuda Athletics Association (ABAA).

The body is due to host its elections this Thursday after the vote, which was constitutionally due in the first quarter of 2020, suffered several delays for various reasons.

Harris, speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, said athlete funding is high on his agenda and that clear guidelines will be established as to how athletes could qualify for funding whether through the association or various other organisations.

“You must attend the Commonwealth Games and you must attend an x amount of games and I think proper forecasting and budgeting should be in order so that you can tap into the relevant authorities to get the funding necessary,” he said.

“One of the hardships I still see that we are having is that ADARP programme which should be helping the sporting organisations. When you apply, yes, you get approval but then the whole notion of getting the funds, sometimes the funds come a year after but I think that my connection with the relevant authorities will help to speed up the allocation of funding and help with the athletes and their request,” he added. 

Harris, who, to date has emerged as the lone challenger to incumbent Everton Cornelius, added that funding would also be made available to registered clubs and that the monies will be derived from grants received from the sport’s international parent body.

“The association, from my knowledge, receives a grant from World Athletics once they have a national event. So, if you do a national junior championship, the timing system has a code so at least, World Athletics would know that the event happened. We would send them the results and they would then send off the grant so for instance, if we get $15,000, I think $5,000 should go back to the clubs,” he said. 

The former sprinter said he will also zero in on membership as he seeks to increase the association’s appeal both here are abroad.

“I think that membership of the association needs to grow and I am not sure how or what happened because there is an email list of over 60 persons on there and registered for this election is only 21 or 22 persons, so I am not sure how the present executive came up with this number but the membership drive is necessary to bring new blood into the association. No association is owned by any individual. I think the association should be able to attract persons from different walks of life,” Harris said.

The AGM is slated for St Joseph’s Academy and will start 7pm.

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