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Coach Donnie Knowles to be Honoured for His Contribution to Soccer
By Robbin Whachell, Editor, The Bahamas Weekly
Jan 13, 2012 - 3:46:08 PM

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Coach Donnie Knowles (left) and his wife Mary Woodside-Knowles (right) sit for a photo with some the players at the Grand Bahama Girls' Soccer Developmental League which they founded over 10 years ago. Photo: TheBahamasWeekly.com

Freeport, Bahamas - Donnie Knowles, co-founder and co-director of the Grand Bahama Girls' Soccer Development Programme will be honoured for his contributions to soccer in the country by the upcoming Bahamas Law Enforcement Sports Challenge which will take place from January 18th to 23rd in Freeport.

Known for his excellence in coaching, Knowles' Predators women's team was undefeated throughout their years of play in the Grand Bahama Football League and he took them to 5 national championships, the last in Nassau in 2003.  He was head coach of the Bahamas Women’s National Soccer team which participated in the World Cup Qualifier in 2000.  In 2003 he was assistant coach of the Bahamas Women’s National U 20 Soccer team which participated in the Olympic Qualifier and the World Cup Qualifier.

If you pass by the Freeport Rugby Football Club field on Saturday's you'll see Donnie Knowles busy setting up 10 fields for the Grand Bahama Girls' Soccer League. All this he does while running his busy Saturday business at Town and Country.

Working alongside his wife, Mary Knowles with love and dedication, not only to the world's most popular sport, but toward their interest of bettering the lives of the youth in Grand Bahama, his story is one of perseverance. The husband-wife team co-founded the Grand Bahama Girls' Soccer Development Programme over 10 years ago, and today the league is thriving with over 260 players, and even has waiting lists. They treat their young players like family, and are strong in their disciplinary actions, but always wield a loving approach, and the girls feel this and respect them for it. The Knowles dynamic duo have helped get many of their players into colleges on scholarships.

Playing goalie throughout his sports career, in his youth Knowles was the captain of the Aquinas Boys College Soccer Team from 1975-77 and was a member of the Bahamas National Team Qualifiers, CONCACAF Qualifiers and Shell Cup Qualifiers.

Donnie Knowles playing in the Grand Bahama Football League

In 1979 he was given a 9 month try-out for Celtic team in Scotland but did not make the team. Then he was invited to try-out for a Division 1 team in England called Sheffield United, but broke leg three days before contract signing. He also tried out for the New York Cosmos and Washington Diplomats. In his own country he played for Grand Bahama in 3 Bahama Games from 1991-1998.

Knowles was actively involved in the Grand Bahama Football League wearing several hats, but was the president from 2002 to 2006. He has also supported the YMCA Soccer Programme and volunteered as a head coach. One year while women's teams were few in the Grand Bahama Football League he started a second team of teenagers called the Coca Cola Crushers, and coached both teams simultaneously. The success of this team helped fuel the creation of the successful girls' league that you see today.

Knowles going over play strategy with his Freeport team during a national game in Nassau. Photo: TheBahamasWeekly.com

Whether he's jumping in to help ref a soccer match, or is on the sidelines cheering on many of the youth he's helped coach, where there is soccer or other sports, you will find Donnie Knowles. Today Mr and Mrs Knowles' weekend activities often involve attending graduations, weddings or other important milestones by the many girls they have watched grow up.

Years of commitment, dedication, and his love for the game and his community, all exemplify Donnie Knowles and make him very worthy of this upcoming award.

Knowles with the Town and Country Predators winning a national title in 2002 in Freeport. Girls on his team ranged in age from 14 to 40 years of age. Photo: TheBahamasWeekly.com

Another win for Knowles! An elated Coach Donnie Knowles after the last national game between Freeport and New Providence in 2003. His team won 5 national titles and his GBFL team, the Predators were undefeated in all years of play. Knowles will be acknowledged by the Bahamas Law Enforcement Games for his contribution to soccer in the country. Photo: TheBahamasWeekly.com

For the first ever Bahamas Law Enforcement Sports Challenge, an ‘Olympic Games’-style "international sports event" for Law Enforcement (including Police, Fire & Border Control officers), homage will be paid to local sports legends.  

In a similar vein to the World Police & Fire Games, recently held in New York City, the Bahamas Law Enforcement Games will encompass a wide variety of sporting events that will test the physical & mental athletic skills of the competitors. Sporting events will include – among others – basketball, soccer, football, boxing, softball, and open-water swimming. Awards for various competitions will be named in honor of local legends in the respective field. Proposed honorees include Gladstone ‘Moon’ McPhee’ for his contributions to basketball, and Jimmy Lee for his contributions to softball.  

This 5-day event, headed by Ms. Shawn Thomas, has garnered the support of The Bahamas’ Ministry of Tourism & Aviation, and Ministry of National Security as well as the United States Embassy, the Florida Police & Fire Games, and Bahamas Celebration (including discounted rates for travel during that time). The Bahamas Weekly has also joined on as a media partner with the event assist in getting the word out. Talks are also underway with The Bahamas’ Ministers of Education, and Youth, Sports & Culture. The event opens January 18, 2012, and will be hosted by Grand Lucayan Resort.  

For more information, please contact Shawn Thomas ( shawnbthomas@gmail.com ) or Rosalyn Pinder ( rpinder@bahamas.com ) via e-mail or at 350-8600.

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