THE COMPLAINS, as well as calls are now bellowing and indeed deafening, for improved lighting at the Victoria Park. The calls though are specifically for better lighting to suffice football matches at night.
It is embarrassing to say the least for what is accepted as a lit Victoria Park, to accommodate football matches in the evening into the night.
Yes, these lights would have proved adequate some years ago, however, they are no longer effective, hence, their usefulness comes sharply into focus.
It must be registered that the issue of the lights at the venue, is not a new one, but one that has been ongoing for some time now.
Five years ago, when St Vincent and the Grenadines hosted matches in Group E of the Concacaf Under-17 female qualifiers, the competition had to be shifted from the Victoria Park to the Arnos Vale Playing Field.
This, after technical officials of Concacaf deemed the lighting woefully substandard for matches of that nature.
Yes, there were some changes done to the bulbs and minor improvements made, but the woes of the lighting have since exacerbated.
A case in point was last Saturday’s return leg between St Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada in a bilateral two match international friendly at the Victoria Park venue. The match was originally slated for a 7:00 p.m start, but had to be brought forward because the lighting at that time would not have accommodated the proper streaming of the match.
It was rather unnerving and shameful to hear some of the Grenada players and officials make disparaging remarks in respect to the lights at the venue during last Saturday’s match. This as the lights were switched to necessitate the conclusion of the friendly international which went into early evening.
As it is, St Vincent and the Grenadines will pride itself as the lone country within the East Caribbean belt not to have a playing field that is acceptable to host matches at nights.
The lack of a properly lit sporting facility thus places St Vincent and the Grenadines in no position for hosting of regional and international Football matches that are fixtured for late evening into the night.
Crucially, the poor lighting provides a nightmare for members of the media, especially photo journalists who are tasked with the responsibility of capturing
the best photo moments.
Such occurrences should not be slighted as overall, St Vincent and the Grenadines is on show, and any deficiencies and inadequacies are collective responsibilities and blame for the nation as a whole.
What then is the big hold up with the authorities, namely the National Lotteries Authority, making a conscious and concerted effort to upgrade the lighting at the Victoria Park?
Is the National Lotteries Authority slowly shaving off some of its responsibilities for Sports here in St Vincent and the Grenadines? Or is it not too concerned about the development of our football product?
It is no top secret that the NLA’s mandate has extended beyond developing Sports and Culture, but getting the Victoria Park in tip top shape as its best facility should hold priority and pride of place in the overall scheme of operations.
This column would not dare say that the NLA cares less about sports. However, it is crystal clear that the hosting of sporting events, especially at the Victoria Park, has been relegated down the order of preference.
So, as the country welcomes back the St Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation’s National Club Championships, after a two -year absence, the Victoria Park will be an integral cog in the marketing of this country’s Football product.
Therefore, presenting a marketable Football product is paramount, which will undoubtedly enhance our football stock, rating and profile the players.
Can the SVGFF partner with the NLA to improve the lighting at the Victoria Park, to ensure that the National Club Championships 2022/2023 is properly streamed to all and sundry?
Sadly, this column holds a dim view of the prospects of anything happening soon.
But should there be a reverse in thinking, it will be most welcomed by the large Vincentian Football fraternity.