In this year’s Digicel Cup, Vincy Heat defied the odds and gave Jamaica a body slam in its own backyard, a shocking defeat that put the Jamaicans out of possible contention for the Cup. Additionally, the success gave Vincy heat a great leap in the FIFA world rankings of footballing nations to 85th.
The success of Vincy Heat in the Jamaica First Round took them through to the second round in Barbados where they defeated Bahamas and Bermuda but went under to Barbados. The team nonetheless qualified for the Finals in Trinidad and Tobago in January.
The Victoria Park
The successes of Vincy Heat have had little impact on the authorities here at home.
The very day that Vincy Heat was returning home from the Jamaica leg of the Digicel Cup preliminaries the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance was in the House of Assembly, the nation’s Legislature, shouting across the floor at Senator Leacock a suggestion that he would not make any monies available for Football.
Not long after that unsavoury intervention we had the spectacle of the Football Federation here being denied opportunities to utilise Victoria Park as a venue for continuing its preparation for the Digicel Cup.
The Federation was informed that too much football was being played at the Victoria Park and therefore training was not an option.
Here the national team was being denied the opportunity to train for a major tournament that saw an improvement in the team’s ranking.
The relations between the National Lotteries Authority and the Football Federation grew even worse when the latter was duly informed that it must cease the conduct of weekly Bingos because it did not have approval from the former.
Apparently the NLA did not do its own homework since the authority for Gaming in St Vincent and the Grenadines lies with the Commissioner of Police and not the NLA. The national team qualifies to go forward in the Digicel Cup, in need of a venue to practise and to host regional and international encounters and in need of funds.
On Friday 24 November 2006 there was high drama at the Victoria Park. The Football Federation once more found itself locked out of the Victoria Park while teams scheduled to play that evening in the National Inter-League Tournament were outside waiting to enter the arena.
The NLA seemed to hold fast.
A call to the Prime Minister revealed in rapid-fire time who is the boss of this country.
The Prime Minister got the NLA to open the facility and the Football was allowed to play.
The National Lotteries Authority
The NLA has been given the responsibility for the refurbishing and management of the Victoria Park.
This columnist has repeatedly indicated that this was a very bad move in the first instance since the NLA is equipped merely with personnel appropriate to the management of a National Lottery and nothing else. There is no one in the employ of the NLA trained and/or qualified to construct, maintain or manage the Victoria Park as a sporting and/or entertainment venue.
This may well be the reason why for all intents and purposes much of the decisions made in respect of the use of the Victoria Park appear more political than anything else.
The appropriate thing for the NLA to do ought to have been for that organisation to interface with the National Sports Council (NSC) relative to the sports facilities management component of the Victoria Park so that there would have been some consistency in respect of the way forward.