The parents of athletes and coaches took their prolonged cries for the repair of the country’s lone track and field facility to the public on Saturday, in the form of a protest and solicitation.
More than 20 people gathered at the Yasco Sports Complex on the weekend to protest the lack of action by the Antigua & Barbuda Athletics Association and the Ministry of Sports.
To bring attention to the delapidated facility, they obstructed traffic on Old Parham Road and solicited donations from drivers for repairs to the complex.
The group also lamented the failed promises and missed deadlines for upgrades to the sporting facility.
Last year, government pledged $1.6 million to upgrade the Yasco Sports Complex, a portion of those funding was expected to come from the People’s Republic of China.
The work, which was expected to start in December, was pushed back to January.
Now that January is coming to an end, it is unclear as to the new start date.
One parent, Shauna Charles, told our newsroom on the weekend, the athletes are injuring themselves each time they use the track at Yasco.
She said parents, and coaches have taken it upon themselves to make attempts to raise funds to do their own repairs.
“We are hoping that the Antiguan public will really come out and support us and that the government would really see it fit to say, ‘let’s do something for these athletes,” Charles said.
Jamile Nelson, self-styled as a member of the “Fix Yasco Coalition” said running at the sporting facility is like running on concrete. He also explained that some athletes see physiotherapists three times a week.
“The situation is that, an expert from a company in Germany came down and basically said Yasco is like running on concrete. We have nowhere else to go right now, we don’t have much of a choice. In the meantime, medical bills are racking up,” Nelson said.
The group is demanding proper changing facilities for the athletes, safer surface for games, and other amenities to ensure patrons and athletes’ safety.
Nelson said the action is about the athletes and is in no way politically motivated.
However, Sports Minister Paul Chet Greene has said otherwise. He described the actions of the parents and athletes as “disappointing” and “disingenuous.”
(More in today’s Daily Observer)