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By Carlena Knight

A five-member committee, comprising individuals from the National Olympic Committee, the athletics association and the ministry of sports, has been tasked with formalising and implementing policies that will govern the use and maintenance of the YASCO Sports Complex.

The announcement was made by Minister of Sports, Daryll Matthew, while he addressed a small gathering at the opening ceremony for the newly refurbished track on Tuesday.

Matthew noted that the need is imperative for the newly upgraded track to not fall into the same routine as previous government structures which over time, due to lack of maintenance, become dilapidated.

“We cannot allow this facility to get back to the stage where it was. A dilapidated facility that was not benefitting any of the stakeholders in sports, and so a committee has been established, comprising of a representative of the National Olympic Committee (NOC) Cliff Williams, a representative of the Antigua and Barbuda Athletics Association (ABAA) through its President, Everton ‘Mano’ Cornelius, our Director of Sports Heather Samuel-Daley and two representatives who are representative of sporting interests. Those two persons being Michael Freeland and Cleofoster Harris. That five-member team will be tasked with putting procedures and protocols in place for the next three years for the use of YASCO,” Matthew said.

Matthew also encouraged athletes and coaches to take pride and a sense of responsibility in the upkeep of YASCO.

He also declared that the lone track and field facility will not be used by the public for general exercise routines, but for athletes.

“I implore all of you who have any interest in track and field, and in sports in general, to take care of YASCO. I wish to go on record and state that this facility is not one for the casual walker, for the casual person seeking to exercise and stretch their legs. Whatever you have been doing for the past two years during this Covid pandemic, and even before then, continue doing that. This facility is for the use of our athletes, and so I crave your indulgence and your understanding as a general public that we must ensure this facility is properly maintained and used for the purpose in which the investment here has been made,” he said.

Meanwhile, Cornelius noted that with this first phase complete at YASCO, the opportunities for athletes have now increased.

He said that it is now up to the coaches and athletes to put their best foot forward.

“This gives us a chance as athletes to represent our country at the highest level. There is no excuse anymore. We can’t say ‘well, we don’t have a good track’. It now rests on the shoulder of the coaches to now provide us with real world class athletes going forward from here,” Cornelius added.

“Now we can organise the necessary meets that we want to organise here and attract real runners here so that we can get competition; so it is now left to us as an association, as coaches now to go out and do the necessary ground work.”

Cornelius also thanked the National Olympic Committee (NOC) and the Ministries of Sports and Works for the roles they played in the completion of the first phase of the YASCO project.

The second phase will see the construction of stands, bathrooms and a warm-up track.