“Shocked and perplexed” is how Minister of Culture, Creative Economy and Sports, John King has said he felt after it was reported schools were unable to have sports at the National Stadium because of work scheduled to be done on the track next month.
During a recent interview at the 10th annual Joseph Payne Memorial Athletics Classic, King revealed that management of the National Sports Council (NSC), the entity responsible for the upkeep of the Stadium, had held meetings with the schools explaining the situation.
King said he was therefore surprised to see reports in the media, as it implied that no discussions had taken place.
He explained that schools had been informed that Mondo, the international company that deals with track and field surfaces would be on the island for two weeks in February to work on the stadium track.
“I was a little shocked and perplexed when I saw the thing in the newspaper of people saying they did not know. I know the National Sports Council has had numerous meetings with a lot of the schools and they have made arrangements for them to reposition their sports and sharing fields. The fields are going to be shared at Deighton Griffith and Foundation, and some others. So, I know that those conversations went on and everyone agreed.
“So, it was a little disappointing that I could look in the newspaper to see that it came across as though nobody had any discussions, nobody knows what is happening,” the minister contended.
“Those things were put in place because people knew that we are getting some remedial work done to the track. Mondo is coming in pretty soon, next month to be exact, to start that work. Everyone has been complaining, the track is this, the track is the next, all sort of things, and now that we are actually getting it done in the time frame that we can get it done, you still have people complaining that is it going to disrupt things.
Among the schools affected by the unavailability of the Stadium are Springer Memorial, Christ Church Foundation, Alexandra and Alleyne. Those four schools are forced to seek other alternatives such as the Usain Bolt Sports Complex which cost $1000 per day, which is double the cost compared to the Stadium’s $500 fee.
Springer Memorial, the former 16-time queens of the Barbados Secondary Schools Athletics Champions usually have their sports on the first Friday of February each year, but were asked to shift that date to March 6th.
Christ Church Foundation, BSSAC runners-up last year in both the boys and girls had their sports day initially planned for February 4th, but will now take place on February 14th at the Stadium, which is expected to be completed.
King said while there had been complaints about the timing of the repairs during the track season, it was something which had to be done.
“But in life, there is always going to be disruption, but it is for a greater good. So I would just ask those persons who continuously seem to think that all we can do is just complain, complain, that you need now to get on board and work with us.
“There is never always going to be a perfect scenario, but the thing is that we are trying and we are making strides and I am telling you that once we get the repairs done, it means we can get back to a state of normalcy. And when the National Stadium starts to build we have to put some contingencies in place because you are not going to be able to come in and use this track,” King said.