Sports Minister commits government’s partnership with sporting associations
Minister of Tourism, Sports and Culture Cecil “Ces” Mc Kie has renewed government’s commitment to work with national associations to provide sporting facilities.
This commitment comes in light of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Olympic Committee (SVGOC) guarantee of the sum of US$200 000 to the St Vincent and the Grenadines Basketball Federation, as part funding of the upgrade of the Montrose basketball facility.
However, president of the local basketball body Wayne Williams, wants to see this commitment in real terms of government’s actual input.
That facility was dug up in 2015 with a view of having work done on it, however, that work is yet to commence.
Williams told SEARCHLIGHT that his organisation has been waiting on government to give a definitive quantum of their contribution to the project, as well as a “timeline”.
“Nothing can go ahead unless we get some assurance from government… We cannot get the money until government explains what is their input,” William affirmed.
“If you don’t have the cash then give us a lease agreement on the place and give us a timeline in which things will be done,” Williams pleaded as an alternative.
Williams though is fearful that if something is not done soonest, the SVG Basketball Federation can lose the grant.
“We are racing against time, and the possibility is that we can lose that money if again government does not make a move as it relates to their position,” Williams lamented.
But according to Mc Kie, whilst welcoming the promised input by the SVGOC, the work on the facility has to be done in phases, as the “new plans are more extensive”.
Making reference to the new designs of the facility, Mc Kie proffered: “The most recent submission we received from the association (federation) involved much more extensive work and our assessment and analysis, are that it will take a couple million dollars to effect that… Where the challenge is coming is to utilize the $200 000 that has been committed by the NOC (The National Olympic Committee of St Vincent and the Grenadines)”.
“We have committed ourselves to the association (federation) that we would work with them, but of course we would have to do it in phases… I think they want to see a completed project, rather than do the project in phases … I am sure that we can sit and discuss it and agree that we have to pursue this project in phases,” Mc Kie related.
But Williams noted that the matter of doing the work in phases is a given, as they have agreed that re-sheeting of the court, as well as the putting in a river defence and some other structural improvements, are part of the basketball federation’s plans for getting the project up and running.
Minister McKie noted that as part of his ministry’s involvement in seeing the project through, was its go-ahead in doing a cost assessment for some of the basic upgrade needs of the facility.
“Late last year the ministry [of Sports] got the assistance of a contractor to go in and do a quotation for us on what it would take to re-sheet the court with asphalt, then put down a surface that would be much easier on the feet … In fact, we went as far as to identify an artificial covering … It was agreed that that could work, as it would be easier on the knees of the athletes,” Mc Kie told SEARCHLIGHT.
“I have also indicated to the president [Wayne Williams] that I would further the discussion on what has been embraced nationally as the Sports Against Crime Programme,” Mc Kie added.
Mc Kie in outlining some aspects of the Sports Against Crime programme related: “It is a three-year programme, where we will be able to upgrade playing fields, hard -courts, put in lights in some of the facilities and generally provide greater opportunities for sportsmen and women across St Vincent and the Grenadines”.
The sports minister revealed that like basketball, the government is upbeat in ensuring that the SVG Cycling Union gets its long-awaited BMX track promised to them by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and the synthetic track which is on offer to Team Athletics SVG from at least two sources.
Whilst not giving a definitive site for the erection of the BMX track, Mc Kie was adamant that the synthetic track will be placed at Diamond, the venue earmarked for the protracted stay on the delivery of a National Stadium.
Other than the three sporting disciplines, basketball, cycling and track and field, football and beach volleyball are in a similar predicament, as they too have offers for homes, however, they too are awaiting decisive commitments from government.