Editorial: Make YASCO a priority!

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We empathise with national athletics coach, Evans “Jawakie” Jones in his renewed call for the speedy renovation of the the YASCO Sports Complex, the country’s lone track and field facility.
The coach’s most recent call came during his appearance on the Good Morning Jo-Jo sports programme on OBSERVER radio last Friday, as he bemoaned the country’s poor performance at the just concluded Carifta Games in the Bahamas – where the country won only two bronze medals.
Notwithstanding the relatively small size of this twin island nation, we are cognizant that sports can be a platform as an equalizer of human endeavours in the international arena. We only have to recall the unbridled dominance of world cricket by the senior West Indies cricket team over a decade and a half from the 70s to the mid nineties. A period in which, our own Sir Vivian Richards was renowned for being the most destructive batsman in the international arena. His fellow knights, Sir Andy Roberts and Sir Curtley Ambrose were feared by batsmen of all cricketing nations. The performances of these outstanding sportsmen barely overshadowed that of another Antiguan, Sir Richie Richardson, who wielded his flashing blade to the chagrin of many distraught bowlers, who had honed their craft in countries that are physically much larger and with populations far greater than Antigua and Barbuda.
The current head of the Sports and Games Department, Heather Samuel, also represented this country with distinction in the 100 and 200 metres sprints, winning two medals at the Central American and Caribbean Games – silver in the 100 metres and bronze in the 200 metres – in 1990, and becoming Central American and Caribbean Champion in 1995. This outstanding female Antiguan athlete has been selected to the Murray State University Athletics Hall of Fame.
These trail blazers and others are inspirations for our current and future generations of sports men and women. But the younger generations need adequate conditions to hone their talent in their respective sporting disciplines. In this regard, we echo Jones’ call for a speedy renovation of YASCO, especially in light of his expressed concern that the three athletes, who represented the nation at the just concluded Carifta games “had injuries prior, from the same YASCO, and there are quite a few other athletes who are injured or have been injured from the same facility.”
And, as we support Jones’ plea for the government to ensure that the facility is quickly bought up to speed, we wish to remind the nation of the initiative of committed sports enthusiasts such as Luther Lee, and Everton “Batow” Gonsalves, the current president of the football association, then a senior football player from Villa, who more than twenty years ago, as private citizens, creatively introduced floodlights at the facility, providing a catalyst for the government to take seriously the task of upgrading YASCO.
The work by these pioneers has relevance with respect to Jones’ plea, as apart from the government and
the athletics association he has called on “corporate Antigua and Barbuda” to assist in the renovation of the facility.
Beyond YASCO, Jones highlighted the need for a number of other issues affecting the athletes’ performances. These include, “a gym, proper nutrition, massage therapist … a physiotherapist and even regular checkups at the doctor.”
There is no doubt that the private sector could contribute at the corporate and professional levels in these areas.

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