On the matter of other playing facilities the Minister of Finance noted in his Budget presentation:
“In 2006, community playing fields and facilities located at Petit Bordel, Keartons, Layou, Green Hill, Largo Heights and Sandy Bay (London) were upgraded or developed. And at Victoria Park a multi-purpose facility, including for football under floodlights, has been magnificently developed.”
Clearly, the Minister of Finance has not been going around to the various facilities that he has named in his presentation. It is one thing to claim expenditures on playing facilities it is another thing to determine whether the expenditures were significant enough to impact the intended use and/or users.
In each of the aforementioned cases there are concerns about the quality of the facility. In a number of instances the work undertaken has been engaged in without appropriate consultation. In the case of the Netball Court at Keartons, for example, the facility began without a plan and the estimates were grossly understated at the beginning because of the absence of any real planning at work. The location of some of the amenities has at best been ad hoc.
A cursory walk from his Prime Minister’s residence should be enough to assure Dr Gonsalves that the work on the Largo Heights Playing Field leaves much to be desired. He may do well to ascertain whether the work undertaken on some of the aforementioned can be counted as anything genuinely developmental or merely political window-dressing.
One would be hard pressed to accept the current state of the Largo heights Playing Field as being truly reflective of where we would want to go with the development of our playing fields.
Gone are the days when it was sufficient for politicians to merely boast of having spent a few dollars here and there, essentially tinkering with the project enough to garner votes and then be done with it.
The Minister of Finance seems not to understand as yet the importance of ensuring that there is consultation on sports facilities. There must also be appropriate authority structures in place, hence the importance of the development of Area Sports Committees in tandem with the National Sports Council, NSC.
It is imperative that the leadership of Government come to the realisation that sport is one of the most important vehicles for the attainment of genuine community development.
Upgrading Playing Fields
In respect of the playing fields across the nation the Budget presentation stated, “In 2007, we will commence upgrading of several community playing fields, including Park Hill, South Rivers, Colonarie, Georgetown, Mt. Grenan, Cumberland and Sharpes. These facilities are being refurbished with grant funds of US$1.8 million, which have already been received from the Venezuela Alba Caribe Fund and from other sources.”
One is not surprised at all at some of the facilities identified for improvement in 2007. One must nonetheless question the basis on which the aforementioned facilities were selected for work in the coming year.
In the absence of any governmental mechanism for bringing all of the stakeholders of sport together in the new dispensation of the much-touted Consultative Democracy, the determination of which facilities receive attention in any given year is largely a political phenomenon.