The Caribbean Sports Journalists’ Association (CASJA) was officially launched in Nassau, The Bahamas on Sunday May 25, 2014.
Officials of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) including President Lamine Diack, the President of the North America, Central America and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC), Victor Lopez, IAAF deputy director of communications Anna Legnani and journalists and photographers attended the brief ceremony held on the margins of the inaugural IAAF World Relays in Nassau.
The formalisation of CASJA followed many months of discussions on the need for the regional sports media to be united in facing challenges and facilitated by Jamaicans Andre Lowe, Anthony Foster and Kayon Raynor, Kwame Laurence of Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada’s Michael Bascombe and Bahamian Brent Stubbs.
“The fact that we have put together an interim committee to facilitate a transition into a constituted and structured organisation in the immediate future is an indication of our good intentions,” said Bascombe, speaking on behalf of his colleagues.
“We are therefore, using this opportunity to officially launch the organisation.”
CASJA has received support and endorsements from across the Caribbean including members of the media fraternity, sporting personalities and sporting federations including NACAC’s Lopez, Jeffrey Webb of Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) and Steve Stoute, the chairman of the Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committees (CANOC).
“Many of our current and former outstanding and well known regional athletes have also endorsed CASJA including Chris Brown and Tonique Williams of the Bahamas, Ato Boldon and Shaka Hislop of Trinidad and Tobago,” said Bascombe.
Diack presented plaques, on behalf of CASJA, to veteran Bahamian sports journalists Godfrey Brown and Kirk Smith during the ceremony.
“As we launch CASJA, we also want to take this opportunity to recognise and show our appreciation to some of our outstanding journalists, who have laboured long years here in The Bahamas,” said Stubbs, a Bahamian sports journalist.
The IAAF chief welcomed the formation of CASJA, noting the tremendous strides made in the region, particularly in athletics.
“If I am to give an example to any part in the world I would say ‘look in the Caribbean.’ It’s the area in which the youth discover our sports and we see fantastic athletics in small countries like The Bahamas,” he said.
“I am really pleased to be part of this, I know that Anna (Legnani) has done a lot in this field around the world trying to put together the sports journalists, particularly athletics. We have many journalists in football but a little bit are interested in athletics so we have a programme working on that and she is doing really well.”
“When she told me that you were putting in place an organisation of the sports journalists in the Caribbean, I said let us go ahead because the Caribbean is playing a big role in the development of our sport,” said the head of the global track and field body.
“We cannot do anything as leaders of the sport without the press. It is very important that what we do is shared around the world. I encourage you and I say that the IAAF is beside you.
It is nice to see Mr Bascombe because every morning I have to read two emails from him, I say ‘Who is this guy?’ Every day at least two emails from him informing me what is going on and I am pleased for that and we will be beside you and not only the journalists but beside this side of the world. You are doing fantastic things for our sport,” he added.
“Thank you very much and I want to congratulate you (recipient), it is good to see that the youngsters are taking the baton and going forward like we have seen at the relays,” he concluded by congratulating the Bahamian duo.
Both Brown and Smith have had a combined four decades of work in the media with the latter recalling one of his most significant trips made was to cover the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany where he was just blocks away from the massacre of Israeli athletes, an event he will never forget.
“The fact that you saw it fit to present me with this award makes me even more so realise what my forefathers tried to instil in me the old adage that says ‘charity begins at home but honour ends abroad’,” said Brown, who covered just about every sport under the sun.
“This award is not only from the Commonwealth of Bahamas’ sporting corps, but almost universal, regional and it proves that when you labour in love, one day if you are alive, things like this will happen to you. Thank very much and I will forever cherish this.”
Four-time Olympic Medallist, Ato Boldon of Trinidad and Tobago is the latest among Caribbean sporting celebrities to endorsed CASJA.
“As the Caribbean continues to emerge as a world power, not just in track and field but in other sports that we’ve not traditionally been powerhouses in, the media becomes an important part. The media, of course, has to tell the story of the athletes and what’s going on so all credit to those who have decided to make this a priority. I support it wholeheartedly,” Boldon told the Trinidad and Tobago Express Newspaper.
Former Trinidad and Tobago national footballer Shaka Hislop, Olympic gold medallists Chris Brown and Tonique Williams of the Bahamas and Jamaican communications specialist Carole Beckford are also backing the newly-formed CASJA.