January 23, 2009
Francis disappointed with National Stadium progress

The slow progress on this country’s promised National Stadium is of concern to a former International Association of Athletics Federations(IAAF) official.{{more}}

Amadeo Francis, the man who delivered the Feature Address at Team Athletics SVG’s Awards Ceremony last Saturday, at Basil’s Bar, did not hide his disappointment that after attending a ground breaking ceremony some years ago, at the proposed site at Diamond, things have not moved at a faster pace.

“My disappointment is that St. Vincent still does not have a National Stadium, which was promised several years when I visited the proposed venue, along with the Prime Minister and several prospective suppliers,” Francis said.

Born in St. Croix, Francis, himself, a former athlete, stated: “Since that, St. Kitts and Nevis has erected a new track.”

Now a member of the IAAF Foundation, Francis, said: “There are subventions from the IAAF to supplement the local investments in the putting down of synthetic tracks.”

Francis, in a separate interview with SEARCHLIGHT, said that funds are also available for competition equipment.

“The IAAF deals with a very specific programme. It cannot be a dream,” he told SEARCHLIGHT of this country’s approach towards the establishment of its National Stadium.

“It is not too late for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, but time is running out,” Francis, who has witnessed thirteen Olympiads, spanning from 1952 to 2008, said.

He revealed that in his current position, he is able to use his influence the same way he did for the other smaller territories.

“As time goes on, things become more complicated,” Francis, who in 2007, was an IAAAF recipient of the Golden Order of Merit Award .

Francis believes that had things been advanced, St. Vincent and the Grenadines would have been in a position to bid for the hosting of the annual Junior Carifta Games soon.

Francis said that the British Virgin Islands, which recently erected a track, will stage the 2010 Junior Carifta Games, but St. Vincent and the Grenadines is nowhere in the frame, in even bidding for such a championship.

At the 2007 National Sports Awards Ceremony at the Arnos Vale Playing Field, February 23, last year, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves indicated then that the hold up was primarily with the designs.

Gonsalves stated that new architects had been contracted to re-design the stadium. An artist’s impression of what the new designs would look like was on the cover of the booklet that detailed the programme of the awards ceremony.

In addition, the head of government alluded to possibly receiving compensation from the first architects, whose designs were said to be flawed.

Since then, Minister of Sports Mike Browne, continually, at various fora, has reported of advancements in the project, including the setting up a secretariat to fast track the process. (RT)