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Multimillion-dollar upgrade for high school sports facilities

Published:Tuesday | August 12, 2014 | 8:00 AM
Blake

Leighton Levy, Gleaner Writer

Calabar, St Jago, William Knibb, Holmwood and Vere are among 11 schools across the island that will have their sports facilities upgraded over the next year under a high school development infrastructure programme undertaken by the Sports Development Foundation (SDF).

An estimated $110 million will be spent in the first phase of the programme that began at the end of July.

Dr Warren Blake, chairman of the SDF, mentioned the work being done during the recent reopening of the refurbished Leila Robinson Netball Courts, last week Thursday. He explained in greater detail after he had delivered his brief message.

"The programme entails looking at some of the high schools - both rural and city-based high schools - based on their results at Champs. The top performing high schools and the lower performing high schools who gained points and we have looked at their facilities and, in conjunction with the schools, we have decided on what those schools want and what they need to improve their sports infrastructure," he said.

"Some schools will be getting a court, some will be getting facilities and some will be getting their fields upgraded."

Among the schools to benefit in this phase of the programme are Calabar High, Tarrant High, St Jago High, Holmwood Technical High, William Knibb High, Happy Grove High, Vere Technical, Bog Walk High, and Grange Hill High.

Some of the projects, Blake explained, will not be done by the SDF, but under the European Union (EU) Sugar Infrastructure Programme that is being run through the Ministry of Agriculture.

Under the EU programme, money will be spent to improve social and physical infrastructure. Schools in Westmoreland, Trelawny, Clarendon, and St Thomas will benefit under this programme.

"The schools are very happy about the fact that their facilities will be upgraded and they are very thankful," Blake said.

Blake said technical teams from the SDF had gone out to different high schools and made the plans. In some cases, he said, drawings of the intended construction have been submitted to the respective parish councils for approval and in respect to the fields, tenders have gone out. "So, the programme is going ahead, and we intend to see it successfully completed in the first year," he said, adding that his focus now is ensuring that the respective projects are completed within deadline.

Blake hopes that beyond the first year of what is expected to be a two-year project in the first instance, the SDF will be able to continue systematically to improve high schools sports infrastructure across the island.