One year ago, November 4, to be exact, St Vincent and the Grenadines ushered in a new era in sporting infrastructure, with the official opening ceremony of the Diamond Track Facility.
The much -promised facility, which would have cost the government of St Vincent and the Grenadines over EC$4million, was indeed welcomed.
Although the timing of its opening came on the eve of general elections, which may have clouded the significance of the facility, nonetheless, it is a plus to our overall development of sports, namely track and field.
The facility has a 400m certified level two synthetic track, coupled with provisions for field events, such as the long jump, high jump, triple jump, shot putt, discus, hammer throw, pole vault, javelin and steeplechase.
In addition, there is an international size football field which is encircled by the track; uncovered bleachers for seating for about 1200 spectators. There is also a temporary perimeter fence and drains to secure the multi-million-dollar investment.
Kudos are in order for those in charge, for their swift action to better the drainage and halt a potential worrying scenario of destruction from heavy rains.
Similarly, the erection of a retaining wall is all for the good, as the facility is getting that added protection.
Thus, the existing facility and the completed work, according to the policy-makers, are part of phase one of the anticipated National Stadium, which has been on and off the front-burner of government’s priority.
However, beyond the pandemic, it was announced that there would have been a commencement of other phases of the “Diamond Sporting Facility Project”, at least during the first quarter of this year.
Of course, the country had to endure disruptions occasioned by the eruptions of La Soufriere volcano in April, which have inevitably shifted some of government’s focus, attention and indeed, spending.
In the interim though, there was a bright spark, when tenders were invited to bid to cover the bleachers. But that was as far as the process had reached.
Amidst the limitations of the facility, local athletes and coaches have been maximizing the track. As it stands, the local track and field clubs have scheduled training, whilst Team Athletics SVG has hosted several events there, inclusive of development meets and trials.
Sitting on the top of the tree, was the hosting of the National Championships in July.
Notably and evidently, there have been improvements on times for some athletes, since the advent of the track. More so, there is renewed enthusiasm and despite the challenges of the pandemic, a buzz is hovering over track and field.
However, beyond the acceptance of us havitng a synthetic track to train on, as well as to compete, there is urgent need to address some of the basic amenities, namely washroom facilities.
It cannot be, no longer, an oversight that these are not in place, one year after. It is rather an inhumane sight to see users of the facility, especially females, having to utilise makeshift accommodation as change rooms.
Certainly, this is short-changing our sportsmen and women, as they should at least be given that modicum of decency and privacy.
Set aside, there are some other unfinished tasks which the authorities have to sort out soonest.
The construction of a permanent structure to facilitate the timing equipment, and other attending apparatus should be in place at the shortest possible time.
Not denying that there is a financial crunch hitting us at this time, but preparing for future endeavours and being proactive are the order of the day.
Therefore, procuring equipment and implements for the various events, should be pursued with some level of urgency. Likewise, the authorities have to map out a way to have a storage area for the said equipment.
Again, one has to get that assurance of a proper management structure in place at the Diamond Sports Facility.
As it stands now, everything at the facility is seemingly hanging and evolving, without a clear pathway to realization of what will be our National Stadium.
We cannot limit ourselves to the minimum of standards, as the care and maintenance of such a facility, weighs in high priority.
There are enough historical evidence to guide us to avoid pitfalls when we fail to plan for maintenance of sporting facilities.
Hopefully, when November 4, 2022, this exposition will not be repeated.