The views expressed are not those ANN but that of the writer
Anyone who pays attention to football in St. Vincent and the Grenadines will agree that one of our biggest issues is the availability and access to our playing fields nation wide.
The majority of minor league tournaments are forced to either end matches prematurely or have games play into darkness because of a lack of proper lighting at the our playing fields.
Our national tournaments hosted by the St Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation (Svgff) are predominantly held at the Victoria Park(when available), because it is the only adequately lit playing field outside of the Park Hill playing field in the country.
The availability of the Victoria Park in itself is seasonal at best and is bounded by the strictly enforced regulations and guidelines of the National Lottery Authority (NLA).
To alleviate some of these issues, a proposal was drafted by the Svgff and approved by football’s governing body Fifa, which would have seen Fifa fund the construction of a brand new stadium along with the installation of floodlights on four(4) of our local playing fields, namely :
▪︎Chili Playing Field
▪︎Brighton Playing Field
▪︎Richmond Hill Playing Field
▪︎Camden Park Playing Field
The proposal requested that the Svgff be given preferential treatment as it relates to the use of these venues for football activities. This proposal was however rejected by our government.
The question arises; Why would any government that does not have the revenue needed to complete such a project independently, deny permission to a sporting body to have it done? This question I ultimately have no answer for. The idea that it is somehow a political move, makes even less sense. There will be far less political benefits from blocking said proposal than there would be in granting it. So the idea that the government is barring such a move because they are planning to make the investment themselves is nonsense to me.
We are often very critical of athletes(in all sports) when they do not perform to our expected standards. We(as a society) are equally hesitant as it relates to our willingness to understanding the difficulties faced by individual athletes in their respective sports. Footballers specifically are expected by most fans to perform to the levels that we see professional footballers perform, without our athletes having some of the most basic infrastructure being in place to aid their development and growth.
In football’s case, the current lack of lit playing fields represents a clear deficiency in our attempts of growth.
With all the benefits that football as a sport can achieve from this proposal aside; there are greater benefits that the individual and surrounding communities will also experience. More community based, religious, cultural and other sporting events will now be possible in these communities because of the presence of a lighting system.
There is a “Sports against crime“ movement that has been introduced to the nation on Independence Day 2018 by the very government that has denied the proposed lighting of the named playing fields. If the Svgff demanded administrative control over the identified venues as a part of the negotiations, or if the government was required to financially invest our scarce revenue then I would fully understand the denial of said proposal. But as it stands, the actions of the government in this case represents a blatant crime against football as a sport.
Football sadly is not the only vicitim of this suffication. Other sporting associations locally have faced similar obstacles in their attempts to construct, repair or refurbish facilities in their respective sports.
It is reported that the Basketball Association was denied permission to repair the New Montrose Court(using Basketball Association money).
We can only reap from what we sow. If our country is serious about sports, or even serious about using sports as a deterrent to crime, then there has to he a change in our governments’ stance as it pertains to development, n more specifically, the development of our physical infrastructures nation wide.