THERE is nothing new under the sun when it comes to the use of playing facilities in Saint Lucia and Tuesday morning at the Saint Lucia Football Association Headquarters in La Clery it was no exception as the debate raised its ugly head again — less than two weeks before Saint Lucia scheduled to play host to Haiti in a home-game in the inaugural CONCACAF Nations Cup at Daren Sammy Cricket Ground on Saturday 13th October.
Team Saint Lucia is still bubbling with confidence following their 3-0 win over Antigua and Barbuda in Saint John’s last month.
By all indications, the DSCG will not be made available to the SLFA as that facility has been handed over to the ICC as Saint Lucia will be hosting matches in the ICC Women’s World Cup T20 starting Saturday 10th November.
It must be noted, this is not the first time Saint Lucia has been in such a predicament. In 2015, Saint Lucia played both its 2018 World Cup qualifying “Home” and ”Away” games against Antigua and Barbuda in Antigua which cost close to EC$60,000.
During a press conference to launch the 2018 Inter District Primary School Football Tournament, President of the Saint Lucia Football Association, Lyndon Cooper left no stone unturned when he said, “I wish there were more media houses present”.
Fortunately for the SLFA Boss, present were the VOICE, HTS Freelance reporter Marius Modeste and the Department of Youth Development and Sports internal media officer.
Cooper said,”The challenge for us now, is that we have to shift our home game against Haiti to a next venue. Sports Saint Lucia Inc on Monday indicated that, it’s not feasible to host the game. The challenge for us is a very simple one. I don’t know how many people think we still plan at the SLFA today for tomorrow”.
“Just imagine less than two weeks before an International game, a venue is no longer available for you”. noted Cooper.
For the records, in order to get FIFA certification, a venue must meet the required standards set and that includes, structural and technical measures, safety and security management, crowd management, emergency services, just to name a few of the requirements needed and also it will cost the SLFA close to EC$80,000.
He continued, “As a football organization, we do not have an international size field and that has been there from the time the St. Jude Hospital was transferred to the George Odlum Stadium in 2009 after the fire”.
Cooper said, “I am not going to lead any organization where you have outside factors who are pre- determining the growth and the success story of the SLFA. Once it cannot be done by the SLFA we are not going to be part and parcel of it. Can you imagine the tremendous headache and doubts and our ability to host games is now in question”.
The SLFA Chief said, “The time is now right, to do all what it takes to ensure government infrastructure plan unfold much quicker than anticipated, no matter what the structure is whether it is an aluminum floor, artificial turf or grass. I want to make it abundantly clear that the SLFA supports it in its entirety, the construction of facilities that include football international size fields across the country. Without that we will always be in doubt”.
Cooper also took the time out to address the FIFA Gold Project that is currently taking shape in Grande Rivière Dennery.
He said, “We are about to finish the construction of our Technical Centre, artificial turf and a grass field, the challenge for us is that we don’t have the space to put down an international facility. We wanted at least four lots, in excess of 100 acres. We did not get the required amount of land we wanted to execute exactly what we wanted to do”.
“The artificial turf will be laid in a couple of days, while with the grass field we intend to raise the standard in our 2019 budget. The two lots will not give us an international size playing facility because of the many requirements such as parking. It is key for us that football remains your first sport and to ensure that the facilities that are perpetrated by government get your support, he told the audience that also included -FIFA Development Coordinator – Malika Church and CONCACAF Programme Manager – Howard Mc Intosh”.
“As SLFA President, It is my intention from next week; find a next venue to host the SLFA home game in March 2019 versus Aruba. We are not going to wait to be told by Sports Saint Lucia Inc we cannot get the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground. It cannot add any value to us and it’s not going to make the SLFA look good in the eyes of our international organization”.