On Target
February 12, 2010

National discourse needed

We have reached the stage in this nation’s sporting development when there should be a national debate on the structure, organization, and, importantly, the use of the available playing facilities.{{more}}

The last listed need has become the most important, as a result of several emerging factors.

No one can deny that there is a greater demand for sporting facilities.

Over time, the number of persons getting involved in physical activities has grown. There is a greater focus on fitness and wellness, generally, hence an increasing need for space.

Also, some sporting disciplines are no longer seasonal, and few of our young sportsmen are going the way of versatility and specialize at an early age.

Additionally, there is more emphasis being placed on Physical Education in the schools, and the bar has been raised in terms of the quality accepted by users.

Therefore, with demand outstripping supply, the use and availability of playing facilities have become topical issues.

Most major sports are suffering from the inadequacy of fields to effectively carry out their programmes.

Except for Tennis and Squash, which, more or less, have homes of their own and are not mass disciplines, the others, namely Cricket, Athletics and Football, are the ones crying out.

The Arnos Vale One Playing Field is the venue with arguably the best facilities and amenities, and with the others not up to the desired levels, the demand on this field is great.

The Victoria Park, under the aegis of the National Lotteries Authority, is the cultural centre, the home for Carnival, most major religious functions, and hosts some sporting events.

Its sudden unavailability last week has put several schools’ athletics meets in a tailspin.

Additionally, with schools’ Cricket in full flight, and the previous weekends assigned to the Zonal Under-19 Cricket competition, very little space for other sports is left.

This year, for example, St. Vincent and the Grenadines will host an unprecedented number of Cricket matches. On the agenda are three One Day Internationals, the West Indies Senior Women’s Cricket competition and the Windwards Under-19 tournament.

Therefore, the use of the Arnos Vale One playing field for the schools Athletics competitions has been limited and will definitely impact the national RBTT Premier and Bottlers First Division Cricket competitions.

The latter did not go down well with the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Cricket Association, which vented its feelings by way of a media release.

Surely the National Sports Council (NSC), the government agency charged with the mandate of most of these facilities, has found itself in a bind, granted what they inherited from the Local Organising Committee (LOC).

The Board of the NSC, its management and the field workers do not have all the answers to all the woes confronting the facilities under its auspices.

The time may be necessary to re-activate the various management committees, but with some more teeth this time, thereby taking some of the administrative burden off the shoulders of the direct personnel of the NSC.

Additionally, the NSC cannot be too over reliant on the takings from rentals mainly from Arnos Vale One, which are mere drops in the bucket, to take them through their daily struggles.

Ways must be found to make the facility pay for itself. Rental for large functions, with the appropriate precautions taken must be explored and executed quickly. The Starlift Concert, held last December, should be an eye opener to the potential of the showpiece ground.

The President’s Suite can host small wedding receptions and other dignified functions of that nature.

Aggressive marketing of the facility must be put in place, or we will always be in the lurch to find maintenance funds. ‘One-one’ truly fills basket, and a half a loaf is better than none at all.

We cannot everyday be whining over these facilities, as that won’t help. Instead, knocking heads together is the only solution.

In the same vein, the only solution for the adult “Mound” at the Sion Hill Playing Field is its complete removal.

emal: kingroache@yahoo.com