Director of the National Sports Council Erskine King says his organisation was not given a chance to address the concerns raised by NAPSAC and BSSAC officials over the use of the Blenheim, St. Michael playing field as the alternative to the National Stadium for the island’s primary and secondary schools athletic meets.
At a media conference today at the NSC’s My Lord’s Hill, St. Michael headquarters, King said when it was realised that ongoing works at the stadium would go beyond the scheduled date of completion, a meeting was called with the stakeholders. He added that, given the fact that Blenheim was the only field capable of holding a 400 metres track, it was offered as the alternative.
King further explained that upon the conclusion of that meeting, the issue of security was put on the table in an effort to garner the concerns of the governing bodies for follow-up correspondence which would then have been passed to the Royal Barbados Police Force.†
“Originally we had said that the track would have been completed by the end of February to the first week of March. That date had to be revised because of a number of reasons. We had a lot of rain which pushed us back to some extent. We had an increase in the provisions for drainage, as well as the discovery and treatment of unexpected soil conditions in some areas… As a result of the delay we held a meeting with all of the parties, which included NAPSAC, BSSAC, Cycling Union and the football association.
“We told them of the delay and offered the alternative of Blenheim, which was the only place we could get a 400 metre track and we had said to them that whatever their concerns were, particularly in terms of security, that when they come back to us, we would be able to meet with them and the Royal Barbados Police Force. However NAPSAC got back to us (via the media) two days after and said that after discussions with the Ministry of Education, they could not go through with Blenheim because of the security even though we had put the security issue on the table (for feedback) from early,” King said.†
The sports administrator said he considered the action of NAPSAC and BSSAC a “second guessing” of the police’s capabilities without even the benefit of a consultation.†King explained that the vision for the meet was to have a tent city setup around the periphery of the track which would allow for easier monitoring of the event by the relevant authorities.
He also noted that plans were already in place for extensive manicure work to be done on the designated area to ensure that it was in top condition for the athletes.
The NSC director said he was confident that even though this was figuratively the 11th hour, the alternative plan could be quickly put in motion and completed on time.†††