On Target
January 13, 2017
Sports and the environment – revisit needed

The increasing demand for space for sporting facilities, the diversity in the stock of the sporting disciplines practised here in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), as well as the expansion in commercial and domestic construction give rise to various forms of impact on our natural environment.

However, these coincide at a time when, we as a people, have become less caring about what is around and the long-term effects of today’s many bad practices.

We also pay little attention to the fact that sports and the environment are hand in glove; hence one impacts on the other.

So, things go on, business as usual, until something or some event takes place, then the reaction buttons are pressed until the matter dies naturally.

But as time rolls on, things have to change and greater focus must be expended on the matter of sports and the environment, in light of the change in weather patterns and the man-made developments that are taking place.

A case in point is that SVG has had, in the past four months or so, several inches of rain dumped on it; the trough systems have resulted in flooding and the like, with some of our playing fields and other sporting facilities affected in one way or another.

Unfortunately, there has not been a major effort at protective actions against lessening the effects of possible medical repercussions as a result of debris that may have found its way onto the facilities.

It then left the users of such facilities to guard themselves against any harmful elements which they have come into contact with.

The Arnos Vale Two Playing Field is an example of this, as the nearby river spilled some deposits on to the facility, but it was business as usual after it was simply cleaned up.

But the authorities need to pay closer attention to that facility in many ways, as the recent heavy rains have left a gaping hole, which, over time, will undermine the top of the playing field and eventually reduce its land space and use.

Additionally, that playing facility is faced with the constant stench of animal faeces coming from a nearby sty. This practice by the owners of the animals has been allowed to go unchecked over the years by the authorities.

Are we going to wait until some regular user of the playing field or a worker of the National Sports Council falls dead because of the persistent inhalation of animal remains and other pungent agents?

Just next door at the Sion Hill Playing Field, the regular build-up of water on the south western end of that facility is only corrected when it occurs, rather than a solution of some permanence being found.

No one knows what comes with that build-up of water when it rains heavily, as users unwittingly can be the victims of complications to what they were exposed.

Similarly in the Calliaqua area, an almost stagnant waterway is nestled between the Calliaqua Playing Field and the Calliaqua hard court.

Oftentimes, balls from both playing areas find themselves in the stream, only to be retrieved by the participants themselves, thus putting them at risk of possible infections.

And, we are seeing that the Villa Bay area is becoming the preferred venue for open water swimming, which is an emerging event and which can be packaged sooner or later as an a sports tourism attraction.

But the vexed issue of the waste from the nearby business establishments has to be controlled, as it finds itself on the beach and into the water.

Surely, this type of disposal does not promote proper health efficiencies for locals and visitors alike.

This discourse, though, could have been avoided had there been a sports and the environment policy, which should be a sub-division of a national mandate of operations for the treatment and care of the things which surround us.

Achieving a safer and healthier environment for all participants of sports must be left to the direct decision makers of the sports, but the wider governmental set-up, inclusive of the Ministries of Health and the Environment and the Ministry of Planning.

Likewise, users of playing fields, hard court and other such facilities, need as well to take the proactive approach towards caring for themselves health wise.

They, for their own medical safety, should put in place measures before and after they use these facilities.

It may be an opportune time for the National Olympic Committee to revisit its thrust towards the promotion and education which it undertook some years ago.

St Vincent and the Grenadines can do well with such a renewal now, in 2017.