The Government’s idea to establish 15 mini stadia is not sustainable, says veteran national athletics coach Alwyn Babb as he responded to recently announced plans for the sports facilities.
Babb who is the Democratic Labour Party candidate for St. Peter in the January 19 general election, said sporting-wise the idea sounded good but financially it was not feasible.
“I don’t see a government having the money to maintain those stadia. We are currently struggling even to build one, we have struggled to maintain the stadium and outfit the stadium with equipment. How are we going to do that with 15, are we just going to throw them down?
“We have read the horror stories of countries who have hosted the Olympic Games or major games and those stadiums that were built for different sports are lying around. They have become an eyesore. So, why are we going to waste that money as a small developing nation?
“We don’t have the sporting calendar, we don’t have the number of people to say we are building those. What they need to do is upgrade the fields properly, put in adequate lighting, just a couple more bleachers for seating and if needs be toilet and bathroom facilities and changing rooms can be included where necessary,” Babb explained.
He added: “It makes no sense going out there spending all of that money. We can’t afford it, we don’t have the numbers in terms of sports to do that kind of thing and I am saying to come and tell me 15 mini stadiums is not a realistic proposal at this point financially. Sporting-wise it sounds good but that is not feasible.”
An educator and IAAF certified coach with over 20 years of coaching experience in track and field, Babb spoke against the background of Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley announcing during her party’s recent manifesto launch that they have major plans for the development of sports including upgrades to the national stadium at Waterford, should they be re-elected.
Babb offered some suggestions on what he would like to see for the development of sports in Barbados. Among those is the urgent completion of a sporting facility at Waterford, a training venue that takes the pressure off the main stadium and the recognition of physical education in schools as a department of its own.
He also addressed sports in Barbados’ northern areas. “We have to build the main stadium that will attract regional and international competitions and meet the standards for hosting major athletic competitions. The next thing we have to look for is an alternative venue and I am proposing in the north of the island, possibly in Speightstown, for a mini stadium which would be a second venue for training and competition purposes.
“The reason I am suggesting that is because the schools in the north of the island, from St. Lucy, St. Peter, St. Andrew, St. James, the northern areas would not have to venture to the main stadium for annual inter-house sports and we can develop a competition or series among those schools in the north.
“Given that the track season is so short between January and March a number of schools have to jostle for spaces at the National Stadium or Usain Bolt and they end up having to compete on grounds which are not of the best quality for athletes,” Babb said.