St Elizabeth ideal for sports
Richard Parchment, member of parliament for South East St Elizabeth, believes the area has the potential to become a big player in the lucrative sports tourism market because of the strong sports culture in places like Junction and Ballards Valley.
The area, known primarily for its strong association with cricket and netball, and with impressive facilities such as the Manley Horne Park, Ballards Valley Sports Complex and the relatively new Treasure Beach Sports Park, there is much justification for Parchment's belief.
"The town of Junction, for example, has developed without a proper sporting facility, and that is one of the drawbacks to an otherwise impressive little town," noted Parchment.
"But the important thing is that, all of south east St Elizabeth, if not all the parish, supports sports big time, particularly cricket. Right here, we have the Manley Horne Park, which is one of the best in the country for cricket," said Parchment.
"There is reason to be optimistic that, as the town grows and development opens up to it, we will attract investment, whether local or international, to build out our sports infrastructure in such a way that we can have a serious go at sports tourism," Parchment added.
The member of parliament was among several stakeholders present at last week Thursday's 'Job Creation, Investment and Growth Forum' in Junction, St Elizabeth.
need sports development
Alrick Miller, Social Development Commission (SDC) parish manager for St Elizabeth, also noted that sports play a role in the daily lives of residents of the area and that his office is an important player in the drive for sustainable sporting development of not just facilities, but of the people.
"Junction in particular is uniquely positioned for development in sports," said Miller. "Uprising in Bull Savannah, BREDS at Treasure Beach and Manley Horne Park are some of the facilities that are driving this development," stated Miller.
Miller pointed to the fact that huge crowds, sometimes as large as 5,000 strong, normally turn up at the Manley Horne Park to attend matches in the annual SDC cricket competition.
Parchment is counting on the revitalised Alpart to once again become a major force in the development of sports and other needs in the area. He said when Alpart stopped their bauxite mining operations, it had a negative impact on everything important in areas such as Junction, but added that he expects a turnaround when Alpart begins production again.
In addition to more established sports such as cricket, Junction is also developing an appetite for night football, which is proving to be a crowd-puller, according to Stephanie Lewis-Brown, the SDC's research coordinator for St Elizabeth.
Additionally, stakeholders in the town are contemplating the establishment of a horse racing track in the area, which they believe would further stimulate international interest there.
"We are aware of what sports can do for a town such as this (Junction), and we will continue to work to get the right kind of investment for sports development in this area," Parchment said.