Our Agricultural Playpen – the Grammar School Playing Field

Of some concern to all of us must be the timing of the Agricultural Exhibition. We have been taught that it is always important for the left hand to know what the right hand is doing or chaos results. That may well be the most apt description of what has taken place. Here.
The nation’s schools were on a very long vacation during much of July and all of August this year. Any date during that period would have been better suited for use of the facility if the government insists that it must use the field for the Exhibition. Unfortunately that period seemed unsuited to the intent of the organisers and the government.
What we have witnessed is the utilisation of the period when the facility is in highest demand by the sporting fraternity in St Vincent and the Grenadines to transform the Grammar School Playing Field into a National Exhibition Centre, or is it, Village?.
The period September to December is usually reserved for the conduct of the football competitions amongst the primary schools, the secondary and more recently the tertiary institutions. For these competitions the Grammar School Playing Field is in great demand. Its central location facilitates the conduct of games involving the team travelling from Bequia. The do not have to travel too far from Port Kingstown.
The unavailability of the Victoria Park for much of the schools’ football competition places even greater need for use of the Grammar School facility. But who cares? No one it seems. At least not enough to impact the decision-making process.
Given that the period is also the time when national football is played and different leagues are in operation teams involved in the various competitions use the facility to conduct training sessions.
Many track and field coaches compete for use of the facility to conduct their conditioning work with athletes.
The surrounding educational institutions also use this period to conduct their internal Inter House and Inter Form football competitions.
One would have thought that good sense would have prevailed and another time of the year selected.
Clearly that is not important enough to stay the hands of the decision makers relative to the use of the Grammar School Playing Field as the home of the Agricultural. Exhibition.

When the government first raised the issue of a ‘wellness revolution’ this was the first and only column to chastise them. The reasons were clear and would not be repeated here. What is important now is the harsh reality that in the face of the continued suggestion that the current administration is somehow involved in promotion of the physical well being of the nation the decision to leave Vincentians without access to a most central sports facility as the Grammar School Playing Field exposes the farcical nature of the booming cymbals engaged in the promotional exercise.
No one can convince the sportspeople of this nation that the government is serious about wellness and engage in the ridiculous practice we have witnessed time and again in respect of what can only be considered the abuse of the Grammar School Playing Field.
The construction of the facilities required for the Exhibition took several weeks during which time it certainly could not have been considered safe enough for the schools to engage in their regular activities for which they thought the field was intended. No one seemed sufficiently concerned about the wellness of the students just as they cared nothing about the scores who use the facility for physical endeavours following the completion of their work day.

In context
One would have imagined that given the millions of dollars spent on the Grammar School Playing Field over the past several years there was some genuine interest in developing it into a major sports facility located in the city.
It is useless to waste scarce financial resources repeatedly on the same facility only to have it remain at the same stage over the years of such hefty expenditures. It may well be considered unconscionable for a government or any agency for that matter to so waste scarce resources in the name of development, when there is little to show by way of said development.
St Vincent and the Grenadines is not blessed with an adequate supply of flat land such as would facilitate the creation of a multitude of outdoor sports facilities. Prudence would demand that careful consideration be given to the optimal utilisation of what we do have at present. Unfortunately the administration does not seem to concur with this trend of thought.
There seems to be a sense of, ‘we can destroy it and re-bu
ild it’. Indeed that was the sentiments flowing across the country when sportspeople criticised the ruling party for having destroyed the same Grammar School Playing Field some years ago in the process of launching its candidates for the pending general elections. At that time heavy rains flooded parts of the field and the organisers of the rally allowed trucks weighed down by heavy loads to traverse the field of play, one of them eventually getting stuck in the mud-slush generated by their constant mobility.
The Grammar School Playing Field possesses the potential to be one of the best facilities for sport in the nation. Unfortunately for all of the years that it has been refurbished and the like the only period when it was maintained in a manner consistent with its vast potential was when Orde Ballantyne was left in charge of the Committee overseeing its management. Readers may well remember what had caused Orde Ballantyne to part company with this unrequited task.

If we must
If we must use the Grammar School Playing Field for activities other than sort then care must be taken to adequately plan for these in a most comprehensive manner. Consideration must be given to the current usage and the likely impact that the new activity may have on them.
Consultation with all stakeholders is an imperative. Stakeholders must not learn of the ceding of the facility to another entity for another purpose by way of a radio/television news broadcast or by word of mouth from someone who has received that information rather informally. There must be discussions with everyone involved and the most suitable time for all be arrived at.
Even when the decision is taken to use the facility for something like an Agricultural Exhibition care must be taken to employ all the necessary mechanisms that would minimise the long term negative consequences of such an activity.
Over time, due consideration must be given to the creation of a facility that would soon enough become home to such other activities such that the Grammar School Playing Field or any other outdoor sports arena is not so compromised as is currently the case.