Benjamin: MOUs give communities a sense of ownership, responsibility for sporting facilities

President of the Liberta Sports Club, Kenneth Benjamin.
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By Neto Baptiste

Head of the Liberta Sports Club and former West Indies fast bowler, Kenneth Benjamin, has agreed that while issuing a memorandum of understanding to any club, group and associations may not prove effective against wanton vandalism of sporting facilities, the practice could force some entities to become more organised and better equipped to minimis e such incidents of sabotage and destruction of the government owned facilities.

His statement comes on the heels of a pronouncement by sports minister Daryll Matthew that clubs and community groups should not need written permission to manage the same facilities they utilized on a daily basis.

“Nothing will stop vandalism but the fact that these people in the community are looking after the facility and people within the community are helping and being a part of it and the fact that things are organised and you have rules and so forth then people would not go in because vandalism starts small. Someone will throw a stone and then someone will throw a bigger stone or somebody may take a stick and deface something, and when these little things happen there are no consequences. So, if you cut out those small little things, because somebody is controlling and somebody has ownership,” he said. 

Despite his belief that the MOU arrangement is the best route in getting better management of the public facilities, Benjamin acknowledged that not all sporting bodies may be fully prepared and or qualified to enter into such arrangement. He said standards and guidelines must first be established.

“You could have pre-requisites stating these are the minimum requirements if you’re going to be considered for an MOU. and whatever you think the minimum requirements are then you actually put them and I think that what you would see then is some of the other communities starting to lift themselves up but we have to start to empower ad we have to start to put things in place so people get up and organise themselves,” the former cricketer said. 

The initiative, first introduced in 2004 by the UPP administration, was halted in 2015 by then sports minister and ABLP politician, EP Chet Greene who argued that the clubs and or groups where not adequately positioned to manage the facilities.

Benjamin assured that even in the absence of an agreement, the Liberta Sports Club continues to adequately manage their facility, given the level of investment the body has made.

“We don’t, but we know that the people are the government and if you’re not going to give an MOU we just take it, so we actually have one even though we don’t have it in black and white because we have invested enough money [in Liberta] that we could come out and say that we have as much rights as the Ministry of Sports to control and develop over there. We won’t do any development without their blessings but in terms of people coming there and doing as they like, it’s not going to happen,” he said.

Recently, thieves removed copper wiring from the lighting structure at the Radio Range playing field and adjacent basketball court while there were reports of pitch vandalism in the New Winthorpes community.

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