By Neto Baptiste
At least two coaches have given the playing surface at the Antigua Recreation Grounds (ARG) a failing grade, halfway into the Premier Division competition.
Head coach of defending champions Liberta Blackhawks, Rowan Benjamin, described the state of the playing area as horrid, calling on the football association to pay more attention to its maintenance of the turf.
“It’s horrible and it’s going to get worse. It’s unbelievable that after a weekend of matches that nothing at all has been done to the surface in terms of no manicuring and nothing at all. It’s just like putting a hose on the ground and just leaving it like that and so the water just runs and eats out the surface, so that is creating a problem now,” he said.
There had been concerns over the state of the field following the 2019 Carnival celebrations held at the venue. Organisers of the annual event had left the field in a state of disrepair with complaints they had dumped chipping (small stones) on the field in an effort to rectify issues with dampness following rains.
Coach of the Grenades FC and a former national player, Derrick Edwards, shared Benjamin’s sentiments, adding that something needs to be done if the surface is to improve going into the crucial stage of the competition.
“The pitch is deteriorating and I think they need to do some work on that in terms of getting it wet, rolled so that we could have a nice and levelled playing surface. At the moment, I don’t think the surface is going to get better, but at least some work needs to be done on it,” he said.
There has been longstanding issues with getting water into the venue from the Country Pond due to the absence of a working pump.
President of the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA) Everton Gonsalves, in an interview prior to the start of the season, said the issues with the pump had been rectified but that a blockage in the line had been identified as the latest issue preventing water from reaching the grounds.