Hughes: UPP would set up national sports council

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United Progressive Party (UPP) candidate for the constituency of St. Philip South, Chester Hughes, said a UPP government would deliver on a failed Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) promise to formalise a national sports council which he believes could solve a number of issues plaguing sports in the twin-island state.
Speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, Hughes who has served as president of the Antigua and Barbuda Basketball Association (ABBA) and is currently President of the Grenades Football Club, believes the presence of a sports council would remove the political influence he says is now affecting the growth of many athletes and their disciplines.
“There is too much politics, as one would say, and you would find it strange that a politician is saying there is too much politics in sports, but it would take the politics out of sports and allow sports to be an engine of growth for our young people in Antigua and Barbuda,” Hughes said.
“The act itself, we will need to have some discussions with the various stakeholders, and what would happen is that the sports council’s aim is carrying out the government’s policies. So when the Cabinet makes a decision, then the sports council will. And no longer would you need to go to the sports minister to get certain benefits,” he added.
Hughes used the ongoing situation at the country’s lone track and field facility, the YASCO Sports Complex, as what he said is a prime case for the formation of a sports council.
“If you had a national sports council, then all of this back and forth between the ministry and the Olympic association and the athletics association would not be taking place because you would have had a proper development plan for the area, you would have already identified what’s going to happen during the break period and you would have already set some timelines working with the various government agencies,” he said.
“What you have is a promise to the athletes and then there is a difference of opinion between the association and the minister and the Olympic association. Based on what’s happening, the war between the Olympic and athletics association is what is playing out there,” he added.
Asked why the UPP government failed to bring some of its campaign promises to the fore when it first took office in 2004, Hughes said efforts by the then sports minister Winston Williams, to “reorganize” sports, were ineffective.
“I think that when the party placed the Ministry of Sports in the hands of the former minister [Winston Williams], it felt that he would have carried out the position of the party in reorganising sports but that did not happen in the way it was intended,” he said.
“The first thing we would do when we go to parliament is to draft legislation and have the various stakeholders be involved and then we would identify the various facilities and upgrade them because there must be a plan and that plan must include all stakeholders,” he added.
The electorate will go to the polls on Wednesday as the country elects representatives who will form the next government here in Antigua and Barbuda.

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