In a youthful, developing country like Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, it is almost impossible to overstate the importance of sports. Sport builds health, skill, discipline, teamwork, communities and national pride. Sport is entertainment. Sport is tourism. Sport is a social magnet. Sport is a productive outlet for youthful energy. Sport is an opportunity – for education, travel, employment and a rewarding career.
The development of sports and the development of a people-centred society are objectives that are inextricably interwoven. It is impossible for either objective to advance independently.
This year, there will be multiple investments in sports development across Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Through the efforts of the central government and the National Lotteries Authority, multiple sporting facilities will be constructed.
This year, new hard courts, playing fields and multipurpose facilities will be opened in Choppins, Evesham, Rose Hall, Sans Souci and West Kingstown, while significant rehabilitative work will take place at venues in Clare Valley and Rose Bank. Yesterday, the Calliaqua Playing Field received a state-of-the-art upgrade to its lighting fixtures, significantly enhancing its capacity to host night-time sporting events.
The National Lotteries Authority will supervise minor rehabilitative work on several other facilities nationwide. The Government is building sports from the ground up, community-by-community, one facility at a time.
In the 2019 budget, the Government stated that “we hope to conclude negotiations this year for the necessary funding to construct an athletic track for our long-suffering runners, with a 2020 target date for the start of construction.”
The Government got an early start on this pledge, commencing construction in December 2019. The athletic track, being installed by an internationally-recognised German company, is part of an exciting $4 million project, that represents the latest step in our progress towards a dedicated football and track and field facility.
By mid-2020, the full-sized, top quality athletic track will be installed, and the football field will be grassed. Other ancillary facilities and amenities, including temporary bleachers, washrooms, a separate warm-up field and parking areas, will also be completed in 2020.
Among the track and field community, the enthusiasm and anticipation for this long-awaited project is palpable. While 2020 will not deliver the full-fledged track and field stadium that remains an objective of the Government, this year will be remembered by the sporting community as the year that we took a momentous step in that direction, and provided our athletes with a practice and competition surface that – outside of the Olympics or the World Championships – is as good as or better than any other such surface in the world.
Budget 2020 also allocates significant resources for the upgrade of the Arnos Vale Sporting Complex, our premier cricketing facility.
These upgrades include general repairs to all stands at the ground, and the installation of a state-of-the-art electronic scoreboard. After a lengthy absence from the hosting of senior men’s international cricket – an absence that coincidentally coincided with the tenure of certain regional cricketing executives – Arnos Vale is slated to host back-to-back T20s between Australia and the West Indies in mid-2021.
We have no doubt that we will remind fans globally that Arnos Vale is one of the most picturesque and alluring venues in the world to enjoy a game of cricket.