The Impact of Quality Sport Programming in Bahamian Judo
Sport for Life, the global leader in the development of quality sport and physical literacy, aims to learn from and contribute to sport and physical activity programs around the world. Over the last four years, Sport for Life has worked with many sport organization across seven Caribbean nations. In October 2015, Sport for Life was engaged by the Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committees (CANOC) – in partnership with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Olympic Solidarity, and the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) – to advance the level of technical knowledge and performance of sport systems in six member nations (Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, Haiti, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Surinam, and Trinidad and Tobago). The Bahamas Judo Federation’s (BJF) programming is a great example of how quality sport can change the world of young people and develop excellence. While using Long-Term Athlete Development strategies, the Bahamas Judo Federation has created a program that successfully develops world-class athletes and role models for its nation.
Although judo is fairly new to the Bahamas, the BJF aims to increase awareness of the sport and the positive benefit that it has on the country’s young people. In 2016, more than 40 athletes participated in the free training program. The Federation actively encourages girls to participate and minimizes barriers to participation by providing hot meals and rides home. Each athlete trains over 15 hours a week at the 4,000-square-foot activity centre located at the Holy Family Catholic Church. The Federation’s coaches are highly trained and experienced in coaching athletes of all levels.
D’Arcy Rahming Sr., Federation President and High Performance Director, notes the positive benefit that the training has on the athletes and by extension their community, stating “Judo is a sport that embodies the Olympic values of respect, excellence and friendship. These are values that our society is desperately in need of.” When athletes dedicate their time to sport, adopt a healthy lifestyle, and avoid gangs and drugs, they become role models for other youth in their communities. “Send us your sons and daughters and we will return to you a disciplined citizen capable of being a national hero,” says Rahming.
In 2017 the BJF launched a social media campaign, Neighbourhood Heroes, that aims to bring awareness to the accomplishments of the nation’s judo athletes competing at the CARIFTA Judo Championship as well as other international competitions. In that same year, Team Bahamas took home the CARIFTA championship title, winning nine weight categories and a total of 38 medals.
Bahamian Judo National Champion in the under-57 kilogram category, Cynthia Rahming, placed 7th at the 2018 Scottish Judo Open, a tournament that caters to athletes striving to compete at the Olympic level. Rahming is coached by three-time Olympic medallist Amarilis Savon and aims to become an Olympian herself, vying for the 2020 Toyko Olympics. The BJF recognizes the importance of competing internationally and often fundraises to send athletes to competitions in North America. Cynthia Rahming is excited about her future in the sport and regards her success as a collaborative effort, saying, “I am fortunate that I have so many people who have believed in me – from the (Bahamas) Olympic committee to our national federation. Although judo is an individual sport there are many people who contribute to an athlete’s success.”