While the National Sports Council (NSC) insists that the National Stadium is a priority, teachers are demanding quick action to restore the facility so that children can have the best place for their school sports.
“We want to use this opportunity to ask the NSC and the Ministry of Sports to see how soon they could get the National Stadium back on track, so that our schools can benefit from it. As you are aware schools are involved in sports in a very serious way, we blend sports with the academics and they are some students who are not academically inclined and are looking towards sports for scholarships and we can only get this if we have the correct facilities,” said Barbados Union of Teachers president, Pedro Shepherd.
During the launch for the 2017 Pine Hill-sponsored National Primary Schools Athletics Championship (NAPSAC), held Thursday morning at the West Terrace Primary School, Shepherd along with interim chief executive officer of the National Sports Council and Gymnasium Limited, Jerry Blenman spoke on the state-owned Stadium.
Blenman said with the redevelopment of the Stadium being a significant undertaking, they had looked at a number of measures at getting the facility back on track and are now in active discussions with the Ministry of Sports and the Ministry of Finance.
While he was unable to give a specific time frame for the delivery of a new National Stadium, Blenman echoed Minister of Sports Stephen Lashley’s sentiments that the development of a new stadium was a national priority.
“We are well aware of these constraints but we had to make some very important decisions just less than two years ago with respect to the hosting of games at the National Stadium. What we had at the time were missiles falling from the stands and the decision we made at that time was to close the stands and that was over a period of time because initially the decision was to reduce the usage of the stands and we were using just a portion of them but we could not continue the usage of that facility because of the possible danger and one student or spectator hurt is more than we would wish to have in a facility like this,” Blenman said.
With the NAPSAC secretariat based at BUT headquarters in Merryhill, Welches, Shepherd said they were committed to its continued sponsorship and support for the NAPSAC Games whether it was financial or technical. The BUT president called for support towards maintaining sporting facilities at schools across the island.
“I know for sure that our teachers and our students in the [primary] schools are prepared for NAPSAC 2017. I know for a fact that some schools would have had their sports meet last term in December in preparation for this year’s NAPSAC. The facilities are not always available and with limited sporting facilities in Barbados, schools took the opportunity to get the first break to use the National Stadium in its limited capacity.
“A lot of schools are crying out for some upgrade to their facilities… Most schools have facilities that would not allow them to do the full complement of sports for example the 4x100m, 400m or 800m and I am asking where possible the National Sports Council and the Ministry of Education arrange to have these facilities upgraded, so that schools could be able to fully participate in the NAPSAC. A lot of our students now have to branch out into clubs, for example, to get the extra push. So we are hoping that within the next year or two that the NSC would be in a position to get the necessary resources,” Shepherd said.