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Allocating our resources systematically

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Almost every day there is a hue and cry about sporting facilities; the number, their upkeep, ownership, their inadequacies, location, you name it. No one seems to be satisfied with what our small islands have to offer.{{more}}

The Arnos Vale Sporting Complex and the Victoria Park, which are under the aegis of the National Lotteries Authority, are two of the few recreational grounds that provide proper accommodation for spectators and allow sporting organizations to generate revenue by hosting events at the facilities. This shortcoming is particularly obvious in rural communities, and it hampers the continued development of sports in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

However, in the main, most persons understand that there are not enough facilities for each sporting discipline to have free uninterrupted rein.

Hence, most of the facilities are multi-purpose, and that is the way they should be, as not only can disciplines co-exist, but the sharing of facilities helps in fostering better human relations among the users and more so, the major players.

But there is always time for stock taking and re-assessment of the current state of affairs, as it relates to our playing fields and sporting facilities in general.

Before the outcomes of the current national census are made public, one can go ahead in a precocious manner and fast forward the process of re- allocation of our resources.

This is not only necessary in light of the demands of the facilities, but it will certainly aid in lifting the burden off the National Sports Council, under whose ownership most of the playing fields and hard courts come.

In this restructuring process, it is being proposed that some recreation grounds in the rural areas be designated for use primarily by specific sports, for example Football and Cricket.

As an example, we could identify eight fields scattered throughout mainland St. Vincent and allocate four to Football and the other four to Cricket, as the priority and demand may dictate.

The grounds would not be used exclusively for these sports, but the national associations and clubs would have priority access, while activities at these grounds would still be co-ordinated by the National Sports Council, where there would be a greater partnership between the council, the sports associations and the local community with regards to use, maintenance and management of the facilities.

This is in itself a strengthening of the NSC’s area committees.

When one looks back to the last ten years, there is a definite emerging trend in the production of national footballers and cricketers.

The Leeward side of the island is producing the bulk of our footballers and the windward communities account for our national cricketers.

So with such data evident, this proposed partnership would allow everyone to make long terms plans for the development of each ground, and regarding the primary use of each field, it would allow us to identify the key stakeholders and guide the decision making and the type of structures that should be constructed.

The facilities would also be constructed specifically to meet the needs of the designated sport, which means that the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation, for example, would feel more confident in accessing programmes.

The FIFA’s Goal Project of a Technical Centre at Brighton is an example of such forward planning and co-operation.

An added advantage of this approach from the perspective of the National Sports Council is that it reduces their responsibility for the maintenance and management of the facilities, freeing resources that could be invested elsewhere.

Why should the NSC expend man power and resources on some facilities, which are basically thorough fares, when the users could be given the task?

Furthermore, such an arrangement allows the associations to make annual plans of activities, because they would know that there are some facilities available to them for the entire calendar year.

It encourages the associations to access international funding and to invest in the development of these facilities, creating revenue generating facilities for the association as well as the local community.

In closing, let us all be reminded that change is constant.

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