The pending decision by the relevant government authorities to close the Diamond Track Facility during the month of February, indeed had to be one that was made without much thought.
Reports are that the closure is mainly to complete the roofing of the bleachers.
Yes, those who frequent the facility would welcome the covering of the aluminium structures.
Understandably, one would want for all users of the facility, that they do so, with a degree of comfort coupled with assurance of their health and safety being premium.
However, getting the stands covered is not priority at this time; as is customary, February is the beehive month for the various Schools’ Inter- House Athletics Championships.
These are preludes to the marquee events on the schools’ calendar, the Inter- Primary and Inter-Secondary Schools’ Athletics Championships.
And, since the commissioning of the Diamond Track Facility in 2020, the venue from 2022 has been the home for Track and Field for many schools, as well as for Team Athletics SVG.
Therefore, its proposed closure if done, will be ill -timed, counter-productive and a retrograde step.
Apart from the many schools’ sports meets, earmarked to feel the weight are Team Athletics SVG’s Schools’ Relay Festival and Invitational, a Development Meet as well as the four zonal preliminaries of the Inter- Secondary Schools’ Athletics Championships(IPSAC).
Additionally, the local track clubs utilise the facility on a daily basis for their training programmes as they seek to up the ante in Vincentians’ performance in the sport.
It must also be borne in mind that the Diamond Track Facility has ushered in a new era for Track and Field here in St Vincent and the Grenadines with local athletes no longer having to go elsewhere to attain Carifta Standards.
Slowly, other persons in the neighbouring islands are taking advantage of the regular weekly competitions at the facility and are finding their way here.
The latest was a group of Grenadians who were part of the Kineke Alexander Classic last Saturday, January 27, 2024. Before them have been participants from St Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago.
But as the authorities unwittingly made their pronouncements, they forget that at this juncture there is a dearth of acceptable sporting facilities that can adequately host Track and Field.
Lest they forget that with St Vincent and the Grenadines committed to the hosting of matches in the International Cricket Council ( ICC) Men’s T/20 World Cup in June, the other facilities, namely the Arnos Vale and the Sion Hill Playing Fields, are out of use for the said purpose.
Neither is the Victoria Park near to any form of suitability as the track is too small, and does not augur well for proper returns from our athletes.
The aforementioned issues thus leave Track and Field in a bind should the proposal for temporary closure of the Diamond Track Facility come to fruition.
Hopefully, this column’s fears and concerns will be allayed by someone who possesses that modicum of care and understanding, a tinge of awareness of the importance of sports, and more so, the positive psychological impact that Track and Field has on the young population of St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Should things work out in the best interests of our budding athletes, schools, parents, coaches and the sporting fraternity as a whole one does not envisage such callous thoughts and decisions would be entertained, more so acted on by those with the reins of authority.