August 19, 2017
The sport of boxing is expected to receive a huge boost locally in the coming months, as the Global Athletic Foundation for Youth (GAFY) has stepped up to upgrade the National Boxing Gym, located in the Queen Elizabeth Sports Center.
According to GAFY Assistant Director for Administration Ken Morilak, the group will donate thousands of dollars worth of equipment to the Bahamas Boxing Federation (BBF) over the course of the next few months. Along with the project's organizers, volunteers from Florida State University, Clemson University and Virginia Tech University are all lending a helping hand to speed up the renovation process.
"We just started on the project today. So right now we're just trying to paint it up a bit and make it look a little better. And then in a couple of months we plan on bringing some equipment down, including heavy bags, weights, headgear and boxing gloves.
"Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC) President Wellington Miller gave us a list of equipment that he felt the athletes could use. We have watched some of these kids train, and they are amazing. So we are anxious to see how they do with added equipment and an improved facility. We also do some work with smaller kids as well. We're working on building a pavilion with basketball and volleyball courts for one of the non-profit organizations here on the island. We are doing all of these projects in cooperation with the U.S. Embassy, and in the next few years, we are hoping that we can make a difference in the lives of the youth of The Bahamas."
The National Boxing Gym is GAFY's first local initiative, however, it plans on renovating several facilities in the Queen Elizabeth Sports Center.
"Right now we're trying to gather up sponsors locally and around the world that want to give back to the youth," said GAFY Development Director Brad Kurtz. "We're looking to resurface basketball courts, do some painting and bring in some equipment supplies, so more money can go into community-based projects.
"All of the money we raise goes back into the community. Our goal is to continue this over, month after month, and project after project, and then expand to the Family Islands. We want to hit Freeport, Abaco and expand out even further. Ultimately, we want to bring in some international sporting competitions."
Miller, who also serves as the head of the BBF, said the donations would go a long way toward the revitalization of the local amateur boxing program.
"Although boxing is the first beneficiary, many other sports will benefit from this initiative," he said. "This is a five-project plan, and we plan to give them the final budget by September, because that's when the United States issued its national budget. We are going to make sure that we get these things done. The basketball court and the tennis court will be the next facilities that will be repaired."
National Sports Authority (NSA) General Manager Jeffrey Beckles said that GAFY's renovation of the National Boxing Gym coincides with its mandate of providing elite level facilities for local athletes to develop their craft.
"When I met with the group yesterday, I was able to learn more about their initiative and it inspired me, because it was really the basis for the way we want to develop local sports," said Beckles. "I'm hoping that more people here recognize that this spirit needs to be revived here. This work that is going on is really a shot in the arm for the local boxers here. The NSA is looking for opportunities to partner with the local community, not just for money, but also to show support, come down here and help to develop some of these facilities."
GAFY is a Leesburg, Virginia based private non-profit foundation whose purpose is to help empower and better the lives of children through sports and athletics.
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