Soufrierians will have something to smile about as work on the mini stadium is almost complete. The facility, which is funded by the Government of Saint Lucia to the tune of EC$10 million plus, will be the first of its kind since the opening of the George Odlum Stadium in Vieux Fort and the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground in Beausejour, Gros Islet almost 19-years ago.
Sports Director in the Ministry for Youth Development and Sports, Patrick Mathurin spoke to this reporter on the latest development regarding the mini stadium. This is what he had to say.
“Just before the end of 2020 we would have completed the laying of the turf field. Last week Saturday (13th February) we had a meeting and on Monday 16th February we started work on the 400 metres track, I can safely say, the marking is almost completed”.
According to Mathurin, “We are now in the planning stages to see how we could open the facility on a phased basis because the first part of the facility/project was to do the turf field (football) and the track, after which time we would develop/ renovate the grand stand to the standard for FIFA games, which is all part of phase two which we will look into come the next financial year”.
He continued, “We are now in the process of planning to ensure that we have an opening date for the facility. Once the track and the field are ready it will allow persons to use it in an organized manner”.
“You would have recognized that the turf is very expensive, the MONDO tracks are one of the more expensive ones, so we got a very good price on them,” he said.
Speaking on the certification of the track by the IAAF Mathurin said that as soon as it is completed it will be certified.
“That’s part of the contractual agreement. As a matter of fact, the paper work is done already and has been sent to World Athletics for certification; also the level of certification we will get would impinge on both the surface and the facility,” he said.
He added, “A facility is certified based on its amenities, and we are saying to you that the completion of the discuss and shot putt areas, which will not be at that facility will be done elsewhere and the IAAF has no difficulties in giving us a level of certification which can be updated once we have those other amenities in place, because the IAAF are saying to you, you have a running track and a few amenities for field events, but you need to get in the other amenities to get that level of certification”.
“The running surface will be certified together with some field events areas and once you get the other amenities you could get a full certification. Once they are upgraded you can host regional and maybe international games,” Mathurin said.
On the upgrade of other sporting facilities: “In terms of districts, the government is providing new sporting facilities. We have something called the National Sport Infrastructure Programme (NSIP) targeting a number of communities in a different way. The major one was Soufriere which we wanted to bring up to international standards”.
“The second one is what we call the Sports Hub (SH) which will be happening in Dennery. Dennery is now ready to receive the carpeting and you would notice they would have a FIFA standard size playing field, a smaller playing field for 7×7 games; the multi purpose court would be improved and there will be a small children’s play ground”.
In terms of the community facilities Mathurin said “These facilities would include Micoud. Micoud is ready to receive the surface within the next two weeks. The surfacing personnel/workers who are not here will be returning on island to complete the surface on those two playing facilities.”
“The other playing field which has been impacted, is the Desruisseaux playing field, and that is complete. There is a brand new surface, the fencing is up, and also the goal posts. The other part of Desruisseaux, which might happen this year, is the lighting, so Desruisseaux will be lit,” he said.
According to Mathurin, once those facilities are completed the Ministry for Youth Development and Sports will start again to look at other facilities around the island.
“One would quite understand that this is an expensive venture and we can’t do it everywhere, however improvements are now happening to the surface on the Belle Vie playing field in Vieux Fort. The other playing fields, in conjunction with Sports Saint Lucia Inc (SSI) is to maintain a level of maintenance and to ensure that there is a preferable surface for partaking in sports by the various stakeholders”.
Any plans for the Marchand playing field and the Mindoo Phillip Park? Mathurin breathed a sigh of relief and said, “This is a very big one. The Ministry on its own would not do anything on the facilities without consultation with (certain) persons. What is the best fix for the Mindoo Phillip Park and the Marchand Grounds, we have had discussions about making the two facilities into one whether or not that is feasible. Discussions are going on but there are no final plans for that facility as yet. The most we could do now is to ensure that the grounds are always well- kept so that the sports people could use, especially those in the city centre.”
Mathurin said, “Discussion is ongoing and once we come to a final plan in consultation with the users of the facility and the persons in the community then we will make an announcement as to what will happen with these two facilities”.