By Neto Baptiste
Minister of Sports Daryll Matthew, revealed in parliament on Monday that work on the laying of a certified Mondo surface at the YASCO Sports Complex could be completed within the next two weeks.
Matthew, while making his presentation on the 2021 budget, thanked both the Public Works Department and the National Olympic Committee (NOC) for partnering with his ministry in finally bringing to an end, the long wait of the track & field community for a certified surface to an end.
“The work is scheduled to be completed within the next two weeks and I wish to thank the ministry of works for the support they have given. I wish to thank the National Olympic Committee because this is a collaborative effort and our athletes will be all the better for a completed YASCO,” he said.
The minister noted also that government has spent in excess of one million dollars on ensuring that all civil works were completed on schedule and as requested by Mondo.
He further explained the reason for the lengthy delay to the start of the laying of the surface.
“It’s approximately 1.2 million dollars that the government paid to ensure that the civil works are done. The technicians came to install the track [surface] and the very day they were to start laying the surface of the track, airports across the world started to close because of Covid. The two gentlemen indicated they did not want to be trapped in a foreign country without the benefit of knowing how long this crisis is going to last and so they opted to go home. Between March last year and December 2020, we have been having regular dialog as to how can we facilitate their return to Antigua and what is happening, what was the situation in their countries because one gentleman was in Italy and the other was in Panama,” he said.
Despite the lack of a useable track over the past year, Matthew commended the coaches attached to his ministry for their creativity in keeping the student-athletes engaged.
“One of the things they have done is that they have collaborated and have produced a series of videos, coaching drills where they release them on a periodic basis on social media, send them out far and wide and students are encouraged to do the drills in the form of a competition. As a student you receive the drill on your smartphone, Facebook or wherever, you do a video of yourself carrying out the activity and you post it and the student receiving the most likes gets rewarded and what it does is encourage students even without a physical coach being with them,” he said.
Matthew’s Ministry of Education, sports and the Creative Industries was allotted $165,314.600.00 (one hundred and sixty five million, three hundred and fourteen thousand, six hundred dollars) for 2021.