Are we on track?
On Target
September 3, 2021
Are we on track?

THERE WAS A bellowing of sound; groaning of anguish and countenance of despair for many years, as St Vincent and the Grenadines yearned for a synthetic track.

Those were all answered in the affirmative, when in early January 2020, the ground was broken which signalled the intent to have at least a synthetic track for the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Like clock-work, the track was completed in November, much to the delight and acceptance of our young track and field athletes mainly, as well as coaches, parents, administrators and well-wishers of sports.

Against the odds in terms of the financial crunch at the time and detractors who wished for the project to submerge in flood water, perseverance and political will prevailed and the track was delivered.

However, above and beyond what the naked eye beholds, there are some issues and concerns which must be given answers and ventilation.

Since its commissioning and soft opening, there is an air of frivolousness and equanimity which is prevailing over the facility. This came to the fore when earlier this year, there were videos circulating of persons using the facility for frolicking purposes.

Immediately, there was a piece meal reply, with the stationing of security personnel, to thwart any incidence of vandalism.

Whilst, the swift move to address a potential free for all at the EC$4 million investment; it reflected at the time the unplanned objective of those who went ahead to conceptualise, realise and built the facility.

This notion has not changed, as six months after, little has improved for the better, and nothing much has become conspicuous with regards to a structured approach towards the development of the facility.

Yes, the policy makers will readily shift and place all the blame wholly and solely on the pandemic and the subsequent explosive eruptions of La Soufriere volcano.

Whilst these may be reasons, they are no excuses for the protection and wholesome management of the Diamond Track Facility.

Having said that, one is aware there were some newspaper advertisements out for tenders for the covering of the bleachers. Although welcomed, and is an acknowledgement that there are efforts in the upward direction about the facility, covering of the bleachers should not be top priority.

Rightly so, there are track and field events which are hosted at the track facility. Hence, the need for some washrooms and change rooms, ahead of the canopies over the bleachers.

This is against the reality that it was always laid out with a phased approach to the provision of amenities at the track.

It therefore cannot be an oversight, but sheer lack of proper planning, not to place restrooms and change rooms, as more than important.

Can one now surmise that the authorities are saying to us, “we have given you what was asked, and as such, we have made good on that promise”?

Also, on the list of concerns, is the state of the football field which the synthetic track encircles.

Since putting down the football field, little has been done to have that segment of the facility up and running.

Have the authorities lost their focus of the medium and long-term plans to have our sportsmen and women afforded some level of decent facilities that they can hone their track and field and football skills?

Critically too, it must be asked, which entity has direct control over the Diamond Track Facility.

This is pertinent, in that without any ordered personnel with specific mandates, the facility will simply be left to an underused, rudderless piece of infrastructure.

Hopefully, when the management structure is approved and finalized; it will be devoid of political preference, but persons with the know-how and fervour, to ensure that the facility’s use is maximised.

The foot-dragging and laxed outlook to an all-important sporting asset must see a turnaround sooner than later.

Giving the nation a synthetic track and football field is just the first part of the process; showing that it is well meant and part of national development, must follow.

Putting order, as well as having some management structure and erecting those much-needed amenities are high agenda items at this time.

Let not credence be given to the belief in some quarters, that the Diamond Track Facility was more a political decision, rather than a genuine concern for our track and field athletes and footballers.