On Target
May 9, 2008
Those sporting facilities again!

It is almost inevitable that the sporting facilities available here to Vincentians be the focus of attention by those who use them. Not so much for their actual presence, but for their lack of availability and present conditions.{{more}}

Again and again the refrain is being sung to free up these facilities. The continuous bellowing, lusty singing, nudges, and even the humming, are all of one tune.

But the singing is to an audience whose ears have been cut off.

The demographics of the country have changed and will continue to do so, hence greater demand for use of these facilities, but the commensurate planning has not met the changes.

Everyone was in high expectation with the refurbishment of the Arnos Vale, Sion Hill and Stubbs Playing Fields for World Cup Cricket warm up matches last year. After spending millions on these fields, being given the lame excuse that the grass is not mature is nothing short of an archaic explanation, which would make men of the medieval age geniuses.

A key factor here is that the composition of the surfaces at these venues has been changed considerably, which makes it much more difficult to register significant performances, especially in the area of Track and Field .

The sand based surface is much too loose. Statistics show that the times recorded at this year’s Inter Schools’ Athletics Meet were markedly slower.

As for the Stubbs Playing Field, it can be only described as the largest sand pit in the land. Used mainly for the national cricket competition, players complain of the heaviness under their feet.

I witnessed at that same field the Final of the of the Neil Williams 20/20 cricket competition late last year, only to see a ball actually stop still on the ground after being hit fiercely by a batsman. My understanding is that the situation has become worse.

No one wants to take the high road and say that they erred in the choice of the sand based outfields.

As it stands, the fields look good from a distance, but are far from looking good. They have a lush green appearance from a distance, but on closer scrutiny show patches, resembling the days of old when poor hygienic practices resulted in children’s scalps being infected with mange.

At this rate, the hardware companies here could see themselves involved in some brisk trade, as the only solution to keep the grass green will be to adorn them with green paint.

Who, then, does the buck stop with?

But no one knows clearly who is really in charge, the NSC or the Local Organising Committee, (LOC)? The planned date of the formal hand over of the facilities from the LOC to the NOC, February 11, has come and gone. Yet there is silence in this regard. The marriage of convenience between the two entities is not working.

Then the axe falls on the National Sports Council. Moreso, because there seems to be a disconnect between the NSC and national sporting associations.

An abrasive tension is oozing out, which has created the “we against them” phenomenon. The consensus points to a feeling of antagonism by the authorities.

Maybe the NSC should take the lead and quell this tension, as corrosion will soon step in.

On the other hand, the Victoria Park is in its best condition ever. Situated in the heart of Kingstown, and previously the training ground for football teams like Roseans, Tafari, Highball, to name a few, the park is in the hands of the National Lotteries Authority.

The Victoria Park is also the home base for major cultural activities in the land. But it has been locked away from the residents of Rose Place and nearby communities. The result is a steady decline in teams, especially football units, emerging from those locations. It may not be coincidental that there has been an upsurge in deviance among the young men from these areas. Therein lies the parallel. The ready access to the facility is not the only solution to the social issues rocking the communities, but forms part of the solution.

The NLA must find a way to give residents of the Rose Place area some use of the Victoria Park. The residents of Sion Hill hold similar grouses.

If one looks at the current national football team, one would see a dearth of players from the Kingstown, Sion Hill and Arnos Vale communities. A few years ago, when these areas had full access to their playing fields, footballers were produced with great frequency. Need I say more about the comparison.

The actions of those in authority mirror those of some over zealous parents who do not allow their children to sit in the “Morris chairs”, which are only reserved for strangers. Hence, the reasons why the terms, heavy set, full figured, obese and plump have become regular descriptors as fatness reigns among many.

Whilst not advocating a thoroughfare or an open sepulcher, more use of playing fields, not only for national competitions and national outfits, must be afforded to the populace for even recreational purposes. At present, the psyche of the people paints gloom as many have given up, as the tightened policies have choked Sports and Physical Education to an all time low.

The time is now for the issues of usage and upkeep of the fields in question to take more importance, as the current situation is untenable. A national discourse on Sports and a corresponding charter devoid of partisan political intent is the order of the day.

Needed, too, is the revelation by the Executive of the SVGFF of the salary paid to Technical Director Stewart John Hall. And, the mound at the Sion Hill Playing Field stands as an obstacle, without an objective.