Friday, March 1, 2024

Lashley’s charge


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Neglect of the National Stadium over the years is the root cause of the annual Barbados Secondary Schools Athletics Championships (BSSAC) not being held this year and the delay in the staging of the National Primary School Athletics Championships (NAPSAC).
Minister of Sports Stephen Lashley made that charge yesterday while attending the one-off Barbados National Secondary Schools Athletics Championships put on by the Physical Education Teachers Association of Barbados (PETAB) at the Weymouth “A” Playing Field.
“What we would’ve had is a National Stadium that has been neglected for many years and when we (Democratic Labour Party) came into office as a Government, we were determined to ensure that we can improve the National Stadium,” Lashley declared.
“The delays in relation to the Stadium track are not the fault of the National Sports Council, or the Government or the minister.
“I do not believe that you can lay the blame for the non-completion of the Stadium track at the feet of the Government. I believe that not paying attention to the track for many years has brought us to this point and that is really the issue.”
Lashley said preparation of the track was subjected to the most rigorous of international standards and scrutiny.
“Of course, the inspectors who would’ve visited the facility, once the first layer of barber green was put down, made some observations that we were duty bound to correct and make adjustments,” he added.
“What we have done is to put at the disposal of the country a significant amount of investment in getting this track ready and once it is prepared and completed, of course we would have a state-of-the-art track.”
He said during the period while the adjustments were being made, the NSC?was engaged with all the stakeholders to ensure that they were made aware of the changes of times for completion of work at the National Stadium while actively seeking alternative venues to stage the meets.
But he said it required several parties “to come together and to move positively forward for the betterment and the interest of our athletes”.
Lashley said he and Minister of Education Ronald Jones had responded to a proposal brought to them by the PE teachers which they felt was workable in relation to yesterday’s meet.
“It was then for all the parties to really come together and move forward on that but if we keep at the forefront the development and the interest of our young people, then there won’t be any challenges even [if] venues may not become available,” he said.
Lashley lauded the athletes, principals and the PE teachers who were involved in this particular meet but said his disappointment at the absence of 15 of the 22 secondary schools was not in relation to any individual.
“My disappointment is that we didn’t have all the schools participating. Whatever the reasons are, or were, I am not aware, but I expected that we would’ve had more schools participating but I’m not prepared to dwell on that,” he said.
“But what I have seen here, meant that even though we had fewer schools, that did not detract from the success of this meet and I want to compliment the organizing committee for staging what I believe has been a successful and well organized event.”
Lashley reiterated that his focus and determination would always be to ensure that athletics competitions were placed at the forefront.
“There are countries that go through challenges. They suffer from national disasters that destroyed their facilities but they still rise from disappointment and they forge ahead. I think, in Barbados, we have to do that,” Lashley said.

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