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By Neto Baptiste

Minister of Sports, Daryll Matthew, said the ongoing feud over the use of a government owned facility in the New Winthorpes community is a prime example why the Ministry of Sports is reluctant to enter into any arrangement with sporting clubs and or groups to manage community parks.

Responding to questions regarding the issues plaguing the New Winthorpes community where law enforcement officers had been called to the playing field on numerous occasions, Matthew said the debacle strengthens the ministry’s arguments against the handing out of the once popular Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreements.

“This is exactly one of the reasons why we are so reluctant to give an MOU to a private entity or community group over the facility because this group could now hold this as their weapon against other persons who may want to use the facility, and so that is why we are so reluctant to transfer the management of government facilities to groups in a formal way like this,” he said. 

Reports are that a newly formed group, Youth Training Development (YTD), and the New Winthorpes sports club, have been at loggerheads over the use of the playing field. On at least two occasions, police were called after reports were made that the group, which coaches a number of young cricketers at the field, had exceeded the numbers allowed under current Covid-19 restrictions.

Matthew said the ministry will only get involved in the dispute as a last resort.

“In fact, I was totally unaware there was something brewing even before that so the first time I knew about the situation was when I got some report that someone dug up the pitch and having done some investigation I am now getting  better understanding. I read in your paper [The Daily Observer] that the cricket association is trying to mediate and one of the things I prefer to do is to let the community group try to solve it amongst themselves before government steps in. I believe that groups from the community that have vested interest the same place, should be able to work together,” he said.

In a recent interview, Kerry Skepple, the president of the YTD group revealed that the body has applied for membership with both the Antigua and Barbuda Cricket Association and the Parish League. Skepple also revealed that YTD is actively working on preparing a field for its own use.