Freeport, Grand Bahama – The boss of one of the world’s fastest-growing sporting organisations has been honoured by Grand Bahama’s longest-established sports club.

Richard Scudamore, the chief executive of the UK’s English Premier League, was recognised for his contribution to the development of youth sport, particularly soccer, on the island.

He was made an honorary life member, one of only five, by the Freeport Rugby and Football Club which has hosted the island’s hugely-popular soccer camp for the past seven years.

For the first three of those years the Premier League was the major sponsor, providing former international players as coaches and general support, including authentic club uniforms for participants. Then when the sponsorship finished he arranged a donation of almost $100,000 to help build the extended sports pitches and training areas at the club’s Settlers Way site.

The latter has helped enormously in boys and girls soccer, particularly in the latter where almost 200 girls play every Saturday afternoon in season, and also in freeing up the original pitch for use in developing young people’s rugby, including the recent club high school initiative.

Scudamore, who was on Grand Bahama for the Easter holiday staying with friends, was given his award during a small ceremony at the clubhouse. Afterwards he revealed that Freeport had been a pioneer –what had been done here was so successful it has since been extended to 43 countries worldwide.

The league has developed into a truly worldwide organisation since Scudamore took it over in November 1999. Then it was UK-only. Now its matches are watched on TV by more than 700 million people in 211 countries and territories.

Its annual turnover is measured in the billions and, according to The Times newspaper of London, it is challenging the NBA to the title of the world’s first truly global sports league.

During his visit former UK and US newspaperman Scudamore inspected the new playing area which is currently being prepared for this year’s soccer camp which is being held there from June 21 to June 25.

It will be sure to be the best camp yet and already the finest group of coaches has been assembled to lead the local volunteers. The price is being held again this year to reflect the tough times many face on the island and that means it is about a third the cost of similar events in the US.

“We have had some great coaches in the past but there is no doubt that this year’s trio will be brilliant. They have an outstanding reputation for working with children, giving them a good time but also teaching them valuable lessons,” said organiser Richard Malcolm.

“The debt we owe Richard Scudamore is enormous. The fact that he chose to support children’s sport here on relatively tiny Grand Bahama is amazing when he had the whole world to go at. That has never really been fully acknowledged by the sporting fraternity here, including the print media and TV.

“This recognition by the rugby club may not seem much to some but it is a very rare award and a very timely one. The camp organizers would like to thank the committee for it. Richard certainly understood the import of it.”

Rugby Club president Rob Speller said: “There is no doubt what we owe Richard a lot for his vision and generosity. We thought hard about what we could do to thank him and we are glad we struck a chord with him by granting him this rare recognition.”

Registration forms for this year’s camp (price $175) can be obtained from Town and Country in Yellow Pine Street; Animale, Port Lucaya; from this website; or from [email protected]