A Little Give And Take

INASMUCH as going overboard with politics continues to show its ugly after-effects, many of us are yet to understand that the undertaking gets us deeper into the abyss as a nation than out of it. Pettiness and partisan politics, it seems, will always dominate, even when commonsense shouts loudly to be heard.

This week, the debate centred on the use of the Sab Facility at Vigie, the venue for tomorrow’s Baron Foods International Pork Fest.

Many argue that the playing field, which came at a hefty price tag of $800,000 for restoration works some years ago, is at risk of losing its pristine state because it’s being used for a non-football event. Others posit that one day of food and family fun should not hurt, especially since Castries virtually lacks wide open spaces to host events that can draw in thousands of people.

The crux of the matter is simple: why should private entities be barred from using playfields to host events when the private sector is being relied on heavily for their upkeep? Hardly is there a major event – sports or otherwise – that is hosted at these venues whereby the private sector is not called upon for sponsorship.

With government often using its clichéd “limited resources” phrase for everything but pork barrel projects, the private sector always seems a willing partner to cough up a few dollars in sponsorship. In instances where dollars are low, these companies show support in other ways, including providing technical support and giveaways. Is that not enough to at least show some reciprocity?

Of course, the management of our playgrounds must not be misused so as to result in them becoming unfit for sporting events. Mindoo Philip Park and Marchand Grounds have paid a heavy price for misuse because it was not uncommon to see vehicles being driven onto the wet field to deliver goods and equipment for major entertainment events.

But let’s be real here. The world knows we are limited in resources and size, so we need not be hypocritical. We need to understand that through prudent use, our limited resources can be sustainable and beneficial to all concerned. Besides, have we not seen top-class cricket grounds here used for football and rugby? Or swearing-in ceremonies, Jazz events and Carnival-related activities? Even Pigeon Island National Landmark, which is supposed to be a conservation site, is host venue to a myriad of events, most of them private sector-driven.

While every opinion does have its merits, we must at all times endeavour to be balanced in our approach to development. The Sab Facility is indeed a special place for our young people to train and play the game they love. But we must also understand that maintaining such facilities does come at a cost, which is often borne by those private sector companies hosting events there. To think that their events have a lesser value than anything else that is hosted there is analogous to telling them that their partnership in development is something not worthwhile.

A little give and take is often the best step forward. However, playing political football gets us nowhere as a people.

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