I Don’t Want The Public To Be Misled: ICC World Cup LOC Member Responds To Claims Body Dragging Its Feet

Member of the Local Organizing Committee for the ICC Under-19 World Cup, Michael Freeland. (Social media photo)
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By Neto Baptiste

One member of the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) for the pending ICC Under-19 World Cup has sought to debunk claims made by the president of the Liberta Sports Club, Kenneth Benjamin, that the government is dragging its feet on a promise to hold up its end of an agreement regarding the preparation of the venue.

Michael Freeland, who admitted that the process has not been flawless, said the committee continues to work towards finalising preparations at all four venues across the island.

“Everything that you send in on a budget is not a priority, it’s a wish list, basically, so we have to prioritise to get the venues ready for these upcoming World Cup games, so I don’t want the public to be misled and think that five months ago we were in this same position. What he has done at Ball Beef is remarkable; however, I don’t want him to say the government has not done this and the government has not done that. All the grounds are around 70 percent completed,” he said. 

Benjamin, however highlighted the slow pace at which work is progressing, pointing to work needed on a section of the fencing and the retiling of bathrooms within the pavilion.

“The fence has not been fixed, the bathroom and all these things need urgent attention and so you see this last minute thing and the rushing thing and when people come paint still wet and so forth. I listened [Wednesday to the minister] and everything, according to him, sounds good. Everything is working and he showed some budget for recreation grounds [ARG] but we have sent in a budget for over five months now, so having a budget on paper means jack crap. I want people to be honest and just say look, the funds are not there and I prefer they come and say that but everything is a dragging of the foot, nothing is happening quickly,” he said. 

The former West Indies fast bowler added that the club has managed to complete some work on its own with hopes of finalising preparations ahead of time.

“Those other things, we would have done them over a period when we get money, but to get them done and ready for the tournament, the government would have to provide the funding to get them done because we didn’t have the money upfront. What we have done is that we [credit] some of the work so we could get it done in time and now we can’t get a quart [money] and the person who brought in their heavy equipment and so on and did the work, it is us he is calling obviously,” Benjamin said.

The Liberta Sports Club venue and the Police Recreation Ground have been earmarked as practice venues for teams that will play in the quarterfinals, semifinals and final of the international event slated to start here from January 25.

Antigua and Barbuda, along with Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and St Kitts and Nevis will host the matches, with Antigua and Barbuda set to host the Super 8 matches.

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