Has work started on tennis facility?
By Rawle Welch
Kaieteur News
January 23, 2007

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It seems as though work to restore the National Sports Commission (NSC) Centre formerly known as the Non Pariel Tennis Courts has finally begun, judging from the improved state which was witnessed Sunday when Kaieteur Sport paid a visit to the facility.

We witnessed the grass that had overtaken the courts and its perimeter was trimmed which gave us a sense of guarded optimism.

If this is the case then the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport must be commended for springing into action immediately after an article appeared in this newspaper asking the question of whether or not this Centre will suffer the same fate as D'Urban Park and many other sports facilities which had suffered from neglect over the years.

With the Government's allocation of $100 million towards the development of sports and arts, one will hope that those entrusted with the responsibility to develop sports, would release a sizeable portion of those funds towards the resuscitation and maintenance of such facilities.

This is not to say that the field of arts does not need a similar amount of assistance, but one will have to search real hard to find another area of endeavour that can match the advertisement and glory sports usually brings to a country, especially when it produces world class athletes.

Just recently, Guyana despite the lack of a top-class football stadium saw its footballers produce a string of stirring performances in the Digicel Caribbean Cup against some countries that already have state of the art facilities. Some of those countries included The Netherlands Antilles, Grenada, Guadeloupe and Suriname just to name a few.

One just have to look at Trinidad and Tobago as an example, the Government is currently about to transform the Queens Park Savannah into a multi-sports complex and that is in addition to the five (5) stadiums that they already possess.

An argument could be made that it is an unfair comparison because Trinidad is an oil-rich nation that also produces natural gas, but on the other hand if this country is serious about the development of sports, then partnerships between the Government and the private sector could be forged that could ease the burden on one party or the other.

There is so much that Government can offer, starting with offering incentives which will encourage those entities to invest in such ventures. We have seen many examples of what sports can do for a country, tourism can be developed; poverty could be alleviated through its success and many other positive spin-offs could be derived.

Look at what some Caribbean countries have been able to achieve because of the success of a few athletes.

It had a trickle down effect and many examples come readily to mind, like Jamaica's Don Quarrie, who won the 200 metres at the 1976 Montreal Olympics and Hasely Crawford, who captured the gold medal in the 100 metres at the same Games.

After their performances, the Caribbean became the focus of many international scouts and athletes like T&T's- Ato Boldon, St. Kitts- Kim Collins, Bahamas'-Tonique Williams-Darling and more recently Jamaican world record holder Asafa Powell, have all emerged and brought glory and recognition to their respective countries.

But, most importantly, the foundation that was laid by those famous athletes prompted their Governments to see the need to invest heavily in sports and they have ultimately reaped the rewards. We now have world class athletes competing in countries like Jamaica and Trinidad just to name a few and that is due in part to two primary reasons.

They have athletes that are well established on the world stage thus commanding the respect and secondly they have built facilities that compare with many on the international scene.

We saw Trinidad host the Youth World Cup football tournament in 2001, a sure testimony to their commitment to sports.

It is time we as a nation truly understand the benefits of promoting sports and start to treat it as one of the vehicles in which we can use to drive us up the right side of the economic road.