Sat | Mar 28, 2020

Laurie Foster | A step in the right direction

Published:Wednesday | March 11, 2020 | 12:15 AM
Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange.
Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange.

Just when Foster’s Fairplay was about to blow the whistle on the Ministry of Sport for its apparent neglect of track and field in western Jamaica, there came a most heart-warming announcement.

It was that funds had been earmarked for the much-needed and long-awaited refurbishment of the Montego Bay facility at Catherine Hall, the home of the Western Relays. It could not have been a happy experience for the organisers of the event, who were forced last year to endure a venue switch to the G.C. Foster College in Spanish Town. This was made even worse when it had to be moved again for 2020.

One of the painful cries coming out of all this, was that monies were being spent by the ministry on projects which were deemed to be less meaningful than the relays. It was claimed that the commissioning of statues for athletes was being seen to be of greater impact. There is a certain measure of sympathy for that view, but Foster’s Fairplay is happy that both are receiving the necessary support.

In fact, given the performances of our athletes who continue to grace the international stage, rolling out marks, which emphasise their claims to greatness, the Government should be seeking additional ways to recognise and reward them. What is now happening should be merely a start as well as a step in the right direction.

SPORTING FACILITIES

As far as facilities to showcase their sporting skills are concerned, there are simply not enough. The mid-island region has produced athletes of the highest quality and with that in mind, how can the lack of a synthetic track be satisfactorily explained?

Pardon the pun, but the Chinese are establishing substantial inroads to allow easier transportation throughout the country. Perhaps an approach should be made to them to construct a few track and field venues to address the enormous talent that flows from the same areas where they are active.

It could come from a series of joint ventures, where Jamaica’s world-renowned sprint coaches could impart their skills to enable an upgrade in that area of expertise. This is just one idea which may be explored, and one is confident that others may surface if serious thought is given.

It is not intended to halt the process of the issuance of statues to the deserving – far from that. However, the building of a centre of excellence where records and images of our sporting heroes can be displayed, is another method of giving recognition to their deeds. This could be a tourist attraction, as it would be a lasting legacy not only to be viewed by visitors to the country, but by schoolchildren. Think of the examples of progress in the different sports and the impact it could have on young and impressionable minds as a route to enhancement of talents is sought.

Jamaica needs to wake up to the treasures that can be boasted with the performances of its young people, and any investment in them should be seen as a gift to the future. That, by itself, should stimulate and encourage growth in an area where the country can enhance its impact on the world at large.

Let’s do it, Jamaica.

lauriefoster2012@gmail.com