By Neto Baptiste
President of the Antigua and Barbuda Athletics Association (ABAA), Everton Cornelius, is maintaining that measures must be in place to curtail public use of the YASCO Sports Complex once it is completed.
Cornelius, during an interview with Observer media, was adamant that in his opinion, members of the public should be charged a fee to utilise what will become a certified track on completion of the certification process by a Mondo technician.
“I don’t really want to say pay to use YASCO, but I think people should make a contribution and make a serious effort to make that contribution. If we take a good luck around Antigua and we are serious about what we are talking about then we would realise that we don’t pay for anything and we don’t maintain anything in Antigua when it comes to sporting facilities,” he said.
“YASCO is the only track that we have and it is the first time we are going to have a certified track and I think we should do everything in our power to protect that and that is my view. Other people can differ but I am not really going into all that but I know history has proven that we are not good at maintaining or protecting that we just leave and say anybody can use it,” he added.
The former national athlete, who said the issue will first have to be discussed with all the relevant stakeholders to include the Ministry of Sports, believes that a vigorous educational campaign must also be undertaken in an effort coach both members of the public and athletes on the proper use of the new Mondo surface.
“We can’t allow people to come there with their kids riding bikes and coming inside there with dogs and just leave it open like a free for all, so there has to be a control mechanism put in place and that decision will have to be made by everyone. If we are going to allow people to walk inside there it would have to be for minimum use and it has to be for a short period of time,” Cornelius said.
“We have to direct people as to what type of shoes they have to use on the surface and it would even come down to the schools and how they use YASCO. It won’t be like before where, for instance, Christ the King High School could just go over and have their school’s sports, and PMS could come up and have their school’s sports and all the other schools. That have to be controlled because you would have to let people know these are the types of shoes or the type of spikes that you have to use on the track,” he added.
As for the traditional use of the green space for school and some football association league matches, Cornelius believes this practice should not be allowed to continue, given the risks associated with damaging the surface.
“Ninety-nine percent of the people within the organisation would not want to see that happen and I, for one, would like to at least keep other sports away from YASCO in terms of football, whether it’s going to be school football or Second Division football. I will go back to when we had the other surface at YASCO because people played football on the field and rain is coming and they take the spikes or the football boots and everybody knocks them out on the track and they go away,” he said.
Cornelius’ call has sparked heated debates in the past with some members of the public lashing out at the athletics boss.
The facility is set for completion within weeks, with Mondo technicians having already completed more than 60 percent of the surface.