By Neto Baptiste
Former national footballer and a potential candidate for pending Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA) elections, Ivor Luke, has defended the sport’s use of the historic Antigua Recreation Grounds (ARG) and believes that all discipline can benefit from its ideal location.
His comments follow a call by Glen Miller, a former cricketer and head of the Jennings Cricket Club, for a return of domestic cricket to the ARG.
“It seems to me it has been willed or that it was willed over time to cricket. It is the Antigua Recreation Grounds because I have gone there and seen bike races there but all of a sudden it is a cricket ground. It is not a cricket ground, it’s a recreation ground and the next thing is that when football got that contract and went in there it was in bad condition before and needed repair, so there was no major repair [upkeep] on it,” he said.
Use of the ARG and its upkeep or lack thereof, has been publicly debated for many years with some questioning the move to grant the football association a 25-year lease on the property.
Luke believes the real issue is the lack of proper community facilities.
“No sport has gotten more out of this country in terms of development than cricket. Cricket has two full venues but one of them really and truly is the West Indies board own, but our problem is that nowhere else is developed outside of the ARG and that is our problem and what we should be looking at. We still have YASCO in 2021 and we don’t have a bathroom nor stands in it. We don’t have a swimming complex and those are major issues compared to whether or not football has a lease for recreation grounds. Football has made its name, blood, tears and history in the ARG. It belongs to football, it belongs to cricket and believe it or not, it still belongs to athletics also,” he said.
The FA hosts its Premier Division competition at the venue on an annual basis while the country’s annual carnival celebrations are also held at the grounds.