On Target
November 27, 2015
Shaping up for the big occasions

Whenever large events, mainly those of a sporting nature, are hosted here, we are shown up as not really being ready for the big occasions.

Having events which attract large numbers of persons deposited at a single venue is nothing new to St Vincent and the Grenadines, as we have hosted several One Day International cricket matches, Twenty/20 matches, three test matches and numerous football matches — local, regional and of an international marking.{{more}}

However, the times are forever changing; hence, the manner in which things were done two decades ago, does not necessarily fit into today’s world in the exact same way.

Patrons attending mass sporting gatherings are demanding more in all areas: seating comfort, improved amenities, concession areas, among other aspects of delivery, in exchange for their entrance fees.

Of note too, and gaining increased significance is that of detailed security measures expected.

The latter is being fast forwarded, as sporting events are now targets for those who have little respect for human existence.

However, here in St Vincent and the Grenadines, we are not getting in line with such programmes and continuously leave things to chance and rely heavily on the general good nature of the Vincentian populace.

However, how long can we live with that reclining – laurel type attitude, when all around us, even in our neighbouring territories, the ante is ever being raised.

Our readiness or lack thereof was greatly exposed at the recent hosting of the World Cup qualifying match at the Arnos Vale Playing Field, when St Vincent and the Grenadines faced Guatemala, just over a week ago, on November 17.

There seemed to be no structured approach towards the security and it was a ‘go as you please.’

The number of flaws on the day made a mockery of what should be included as security measures.

Among the breaches were the number of persons who gained entry without interception to the Arnos Vale venue, without a bona fide ticket, or with their ticket still in their possession. This was indeed unacceptable.

For a security officer to simply ask a patron if he or she is possession of a bottle, in his her knapsack, counteracts that person’s direct duty to protect and serve.

But one can easily pardon such officers, as the host organization — the St Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation — slighted the occasion, barely rising above the level of plans for a club or league match at the Victoria Park.

They were guilty as well with their wanton distribution of complimentary passes, with many of the holders gaining admission to the seated pavilions.

For argument, what would have happened if all of the paid seats were sold in these pavilions?

Such faux pas should not be allowed to flourish, seeing that there are always ambitions of twinning sports and tourism in a meaningful manner, in an effort to gain economic synergies.

Neither are these best practices for auditing purposes.

Our current set-up does not augur well, as there is much anticipation for September 2, 2016, when the USA is expected to play at the said Arnos Vale venue.

Surely, this type of slip-shod arrangement would not be entertained by the visitors, who are always targets for anti-American groups.

The world is condensing and St Vincent and the Grenadines would be easy pickings for those who want to execute their acts of terrorism on their enemies.

But without going that far, more attention must be paid to the events planning and management.

Was there supposed to be a legacy left following the hosting of warm-up matches here ahead of the 2007 Cricket World Cup in the Caribbean?

What has become of the handbook used to map out the various checklists, including that of security?

Where too, are the many volunteers who received training in major sporting events for the same purpose over eight years ago?

We are already down the pecking order, as it relates to being given preference on some sporting itineraries; therefore, other slip-ups will eventually throw us under the radar.

Whist sport is the focal point in this exposition, needed is a detailed national security plan for mass gatherings, which can be tailored and tweaked to suit the venue, its location and the type of activity.

We have to begin to change with the tide, not only for our safety, but to be competitive with those nations within the geographical boundaries, with similar offerings.