By Neto Baptiste
The erection of stands and adequate bathroom and changing facilities are pivotal aspects of the newly refurbished YASCO Sports Complex that must be in place should the Antigua and Barbuda Athletics Association (ABAA) win the bid to host regional or sub-regional meets.
This was revealed by president of the association and former national athlete, Everton Cornelius, who said that although preliminary discussions have been had regarding the possible hosting of some meets like the OECS and NACAC age group championships, all the proper amenities must first be in place here.
He said talks regarding the material from the soon to be dismantled West Indies Oil Company (WIOC) Double-Decker Stand at the Antigua Recreation Grounds (ARG) being used to erect seating at YASCO are still ongoing.
“The last discussion I had with the minister [Daryll Matthew] — and that’s my personal view here — I was saying to him that when they take down the double-decker stand … to give it to us because I know we could get what we want out of it. They have yet to start moving that stand out of the recreation grounds so that is still at a standstill but it is something that is critical importance right now. We are moving into a new season and there are expectations of us as an association to host some events and that can’t be done unless we have seating and toilet facilities,” he said.
The former sprinter is confident that the association is well positioned to acquire all the other equipment necessary to bring the track closer to international standard.
“We have an approved track now and we have a certificate for our track so there is no problem where that is concerned, so going forward I would say it’s just the seating and the equipment that you need and I don’t think it’s a problem for us getting them. We’re talking about shot put, high-jump bed, pole vault bed, and we can get assistance from World Athletics for these things,” he said.
Asked what role has the association played or will play in the continued development and upkeep of the facility, Cornelius said the body has and will continue to ensure the facility is properly maintained.
“I would normally have funds within the organisation that we would try to run from year to year and we are accustomed to have at least between $15, 000 to $30,000 in our account and we would have tried to use some of that in terms of keeping the grass and certain things at YASCO, but the ministry picked up that particular responsibility,” he said.
“I was going to buy a lawnmower because they gave us a caretaker so he could at least have a lawnmower up there to keep the inner field and the surrounding areas as best as he can, so I think that we can make a contribution to the upkeep of the place. When we were doing the track, the athletics association was asked by the NOC to take up certain responsibilities and they would reimburse us at the end of the day. We had $30,000 and we pumped it all into YASCO. We got back $15,000 but I don’t know if I am going to get back the rest,” the athletics boss said.
In July, World Athletics issued a letter certifying the YASCO Sports Complex as a Class 2 Athletics Facility.
The second phase in the redevelopment of YASCO would involve the erection of stands, a perimeter fence around the track and bathroom and changing facilities.