Saturday, April 20, 2024

AstroTurf past sell-by date


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The 2011 hockey season could be in jeopardy if the old, worn out artificial turf at the country’s lone AstroTurf facility is not replaced sooner rather than later.
Vice-president of the Barbados Hockey Federation, Roger Broomes, admitted yesterday that he could not foresee any more hockey being played on the AstroTurf after this year because it was now damaged beyond repair.
The season was supposed to begin in April but only started last month because the turf had to be patched and it is understood that some players have taken a stand not to play because they consider the turf dangerous.
It will cost more than $500 000 to replace the turf at the facility, which is part of the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex.
Operations manager of the Barbados Olympic Association, Glyne Clarke, when contacted yesterday, said they were aware of the urgent need to replace the turf and that discussions were taking place as to how to raise the money to carry out the long overdue project.
He said they had already contacted several AstroTurf providers.
One upset female player, who contacted the WEEKEND NATION, described how she witnessed some of her teammates slipping and sliding on the turf last week because it was “wet and mossy and full of holes”.
“The federation has stated that it is not responsible for injuries which occur on the AstroTurf, so I am not playing there.
“I am so disturbed at this because nobody is taking a stand. None of the teams are saying we will not be playing,” she charged.
She added that the federation should have foregone sending two teams to the Pan Am Games this year and used the money instead to replace the turf.
While coach Shawn Foster did not agree with that, he confirmed that some of his players had opted out of playing this season because of the nature of the turf.
However, he pointed out that the majority were sticking with it because of their love of the game.
But Foster added that the turf, installed in 1996, had outlived its life span of seven years.
“This is now 15 years. The turf is old and rotten. It is inadequate,” he said, as he pointed to holes in key areas of the field, such as the penalty spot, which he said were causing hockey sticks to get stuck while in play and players to trip and fall.
But Foster believes that hockey is such an important sport to Barbados, with several overseas players coming here to play, that it should be generating enough foreign exchange to maintain the stadium.
The former treasurer of the Hockey Federation believes that Government and the sporting organizations need to take advantage of the 200 players who come here every year for the Banks Hockey Festival as well as the other 1 000 who he estimates come here for other hockey-related events.
“It would take about $5 million to bring the facility up to standard and this can be achieved through money that is spent when these players come here,”, he said, pointing out that it would take $80 000 just to replace the lighting system at the stadium.
Broomes dismissed any suggestion of withdrawing the teams slated for the Pan Am Games.
“That is preposterous. Why should we deny people from playing for their country and having a chance to reach as far as the Olympics?
“We have very talented players and this is the only team sport which has qualified for the Pan American Games in the Commonwealth.”
He also stated that the federation “had never enunciated any policy” that it would not take responsibility if any players were injured while playing on the turf.
He added that correspondence was sent to all of the 15 clubs about utilizing their grounds during this season but none responded to the suggestion.


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