By Neto Baptiste
At least two sporting clubs have publicly raised concerns over the way in which political parties “abuse” playing fields during the hosting of rallies and meetings.
This after reports that during a recent meeting held by one party in Bolans village, cars were allowed to drive onto a wet cricket field leaving tyre marks and other visible damage to the playing surface.
Veteran batsman and former national and Leeward Islands cricketer, Earl Waldron, who is a member of the team’s management staff in Bolans, said the incident occurred even after an agreement was reached with the party that no cars would be allowed beyond the boundary rope.
“They kind of made a mess of the field and I was quite upset because prior to them having the meeting I spoke with some of their officials to accommodate them and I laid out some areas where they should have parked, which was close to the boundary line right around the field because it was a drive-in kind of thing.
“However, I realised they sort of slacked off and allowed the guys to get really close to the pitch within the 30-yards circle and probably within five feet of the area we had condoned off, but it turned out to be there were some scratches and tyre marks but it dried out nicely for Saturday,” he said.
Meanwhile, president of the Bethesda Sports Club, Kenny Lewis, has warned that no party will be allowed to use the field without first having dialogue with the club after hearing of a planned rally for next week.
“There are normally a bunch of mature, civilised persons who are responsible for these parties and you’re looking at having a political meeting because I was just on Facebook, and it’s a vexing issue for me and I see a political [meeting] announced for Bethesda playing field on the 24th but Bethesda playing field don’t cut itself nor does it maintain itself so there must be a group of people or an entity responsible for these parks and for 2022 that these political parties think they could just come and turn up at a ground, go onto the field and have a party [meeting] will not be accepted by me,” he said.
Lewis said not even the Ministry of Sports was aware of any permission being granted for any party to utilise the field – a claim the ministry confirmed.
“I contacted the ministry that is responsible for all of the fields and they don’t have any idea because nobody wrote in to them so they could liaise with us.
“Nobody is saying you can’t have a meeting at the field but we can sit down because it’s a situation that maybe you could get your chairs, do what you have to do but we definitely don’t allow people to drive on Bethesda, period,” he said.
Traditionally, political parties utilise community playing fields to host rallies and meetings as they seek to drum up support ahead of general elections.
A number of sporting bodies have however made significant investments into developing and upgrading their facilities and have developed policies as to how and when the areas are utilised.