Playing facilities again, again
On Target
May 8, 2015
Playing facilities again, again

This column has been forced again to look at the issue of the playing fields across St Vincent and the Grenadines. It is widely accepted that there is a reasonable geographic spread of the playing facilities.{{more}}

Records show that there are about 56 playing fields which are under the jurisdiction of the National Sports Council. Notwithstanding that, the fact is that some are woefully small, while others are in dire need of restorative work.

However, there is always a pulling and tugging, as the demand for their use over the years has become more and more pronounced. So, there is often a bottle- neck, as many of the major sporting disciplines are now having activities all year round.

These go with the many activities which are staples of the various communities in which the facilities are lodged, as very few are exclusive.

Added to that, over the years, the introduction of the sport of rugby has added to the demand for space.

But critical to the issue is what seems to be the recurring bugbear of quality fields at which all sporting disciplines can have an uninterrupted time for them to run their respective annual programmes.

The Victoria Park, which is under the auspices of the National Lotteries Authority and the main Arnos Vale Playing Field, which comes under the care of the National Sports Council, are undoubtedly our best facilities.

The Victoria Park is the home for major national football competitions; it is also used for track and field, both at the school and national levels. But more so, the Victoria Park venue is primarily for cultural events, including Gospel shows and the like, and not forgetting the political rallies when the election season is in full swing.

Meanwhile, the Arnos Vale facility, the premier venue, takes on the task of calendaring the national cricket competitions, as well as regional tournaments, international cricket matches and the occasional international football and rugby matches.

Also, many church organizations choose Arnos Vale for their conventions and other showcases. Incidentally, like sports, these are invariably held on weekends, thus compounding the already demanding schedule.

With this sort of arrangement, none of the aforementioned venues are guaranteed, leaving national associations to always be in limbo, in relation to the execution of their plans.

Some recent developments, some occasioned by poor planning in some quarters, have seen the fixtures of the national cricket competition having to constantly be adjusted and re-adjusted to accommodate other booked out events.

Similarly, Team Athletics SVG has had to postpone or relocate its national competitions, after already having fixtured the Arnos Vale venue for them.

That organization was forced to hold its Kids In Athletics Festival last Saturday in South Rivers and this Saturday, its Team Championships will be at the below standard Campden Park Playing Field.

The latter denies the young athletes the best available facility to show their wares.

Then, what is now most absurd is St Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation being called upon to host both legs of the Olympic Men’s Under-23 Football qualifiers against Dominica, May 21 and 24.

The latter was one of the planned and set days for the final Team Athletics SVG’s National Club Championships. Instead, the championships have to be contested on two consecutive Saturdays.

It therefore makes a mockery of the National Sports Council requesting that national associations send their annual plan of activities to place on the agenda. The exercise is merely cosmetic, as the evidence indicates.

Other than a greater need for better planning, the next best bet for the powers that be to help alleviate a developing trend of uncertainty, is to develop two other up to standard venues.

The developed venues could be considered second to Arnos Vale, thereby providing alternative venues for the hosting of regional events.

It may not be too late for the EC$6 million plus earmarked for some playing fields to be divested to upgrade two secondary facilities with the attending amenities.

Also, a review via the consultative process of the existing policies concerning the current facilities should be pursued to overhaul and correct the situation.

Something must give; otherwise we will continue to be plagued with the issues.