By Neto Baptiste
Former West Indies cricketer and President of the Liberta Sports Club, Kenneth Benjamin, believes that a decision by government to end all memorandum of understanding (MOUs) with local sporting bodies back in 2015 was unwise.
Speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, Benjamin said then minister of sports, EP Chet Greene, erred when he decided to end the agreements as he felt it was an ideal opportunity to get communities get more involved in the maintaining and managing of the community parks and training facilities.
“The problem is the politicians and I will say this again, when Winston Williams [former MP] although it wasn’t perfect, had introduced the MOUs, what you were doing there was encouraging ownership and you were giving the community groups or whomever, ownership and management so that they could put rules and regulations in place,” he said.
“All these grounds in the communities which includes YASCO, there is nobody responsible and if the ministry does not let the athletics association have most of the monopoly on the track when it’s finished, then we are going to have the same problems,” he added.
The initiative, which started under the UPP administration, sought to give control of community parks and facilities to a number of sporting clubs and bodies across the island.
This meant the groups would have been responsible for its upkeep and maintenance while ensuring that the field was utilised in an efficient manner. Upon taking office in 2014, however, Greene opted to end the arrangements.
The recent debate over the management of the YASCO Sports Complex has however sparked fresh debate over the need for facilities to fall under the guidance of the associations, clubs, and or groups.
“They need to say that ‘hey, there is a board that is responsible for the operations of YASCO and the board organizes how the athletics association uses it and what are the arrangements’ and so forth because even the community grounds, there is nobody in charge so every and anybody think they have a right to go and do as they like,” he said.
“Look at All Saints, they put some glass backboards there and it now has one. I was walking the other day and I passed McPond and one of the glass backboards was broken out, so who is going to put that back in? And so, unless the government doesn’t stop the nonsense about they can manage all facilities and say, ‘we need you’, and all you do is that if you’re not organized is just say, we can’t,” Benjamin added.
Greene, back in 2015, said he chose to end the arrangements with a number of the assigned bodies after realising that they themselves were not in a position to manage the facilities. Greene, the Member of Parliament for St Paul, has also said the government was willing to look at other possible arrangements but no alternate solutions were tabled.