Minister of Sports Stephen Lashley made an impromptu tour today to various grounds across the island to assess the condition of National Sports Council’s (NSC) facilities.
Ending in Holders Hill, St James at the Desmond Haynes Sports Complex, Lashley’s team which comprised of Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Sport Ruth Blackman, chairman of the NSC Michael Power, interim chief executive officer of the NSC Jerry Blenman, deputy director of Sports Neil Murrell, senior technical officer NSC Ronald Thompson, president of the Barbados Cricket Association Joel Garner and sport development officer in the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Youth, Stephen Rowe, visited and evaluated eight venues during the course of the morning.
Starting in St Patrick’s at the Lowthers playing field the tour moved to Wotton playing field and pavilion in Christ Church, Cane Vale playing field in Silver Hill, Friendship playing field in Yorkshire, Victor Clarke playing field and Aubrey Grant pavilion in Carrington Village, Fernihurst playing field in Black Rock, and Grazettes playing field.
Touring the facilities with the intention for immediate action Lashley gave instructions for work and “remedial maintenance” to be carried out before the end of the week.
During the stop at Carrington Village, residents Shurland Sorma and Troy Rowe, invited the minister for a “little tour of the area” and took the opportunity to speak with him about the particular issues surrounding their community’s facilities. Sorma and Rowe explained that their community tried its best to keep the grounds “in a particular way” but indicated that it was hard to do so with consistency because of a lack of resources.
Replying to the residents, Lashley was optimistic about plans to implement a community partnership programme with a view to regularise the maintenance of community playing fields, stating “the Sports Council can’t do it all.”
Addressing the press at the end of the tour Lashley said that “with immediate effect” a proper maintenance programme would have to be put in place at the NSC. He went on to refer to a new plan by the NSC to separate the island into five zones to facilitate the easy implementation of this initiative.
“It is a mammoth task with 106 playing fields and over 70 hard courts to maintain, we are in difficult economic times, but based on what I have seen, the work that is required is really a question of basic mantenance and ensuring that persons who are assigned at the NSC to do the work pay attention to detail,” he said.
Lashley assured that persons who have been assigned those tasks, both to maintain and supervise this maintenance would be held accountable.
“people who work particularly for public funds have to be made accountable for working. I think it is their duty and I am going to hold the management of the Sports Council responsible for making sure people earn their keep,” Lashley said.
Appealing to the communities to work with the NSC, the minister referred to incidents of vandalism and illegal dumping that were clearly evident on today’s tour. He stressed he would do everything he could to see that persons who engaged in these acts were prosecuted.
Lashley explained that in the “immediate short-term” there was a plan to partner with corporate entities for the maintenance of facilities in exchange for branding rights.