Tue | Jul 23, 2024

Editorial | Is the vision real?

Published:Saturday | June 15, 2024 | 12:08 AM
This 2021 photo of the National Stadium shows the resurfacing work the track being undertaken.
This 2021 photo of the National Stadium shows the resurfacing work the track being undertaken.

Vision 2030 expects to strengthen the role of sports in national development by broadening opportunities for old and young to participate in recreation and competitive sport, on the way to creating a healthy and vibrant society. It is generally accepted that leisure and mass sports are vital to the social and economic health of a people.

The Vision 2030 secretariat in the Planning Institute of Jamaica is responsible for coordinating this the country’s first long-term strategic development plan which is being rolled out over a span of 21 years. There is also a taskforce on sports and it is reasonable for an update since there are only six years to go.

For it does not seem that certain aspects of this vision are being actualised on the ground. Accounts of worn-out tracks, broken scoreboards, improper fencing and poor maintenance, describe the challenges being experienced at the dozen or so major sporting venues throughout the island, despite money being allocated for maintenance.

A letter writer to The Gleaner appeared to have done his own assessment and is confirming the deterioration in sporting facilities. He expressed concern that recently a World Cup qualifying match had to be rescheduled because of inadequate lighting at the National Stadium. There is anecdotal evidence also of discolouration of the stadium pool which led to the cancellation of a major swimming meet.

The writer suggested that the Government should consider leasing, divesting or forming public-private partnerships to ensure that sporting infrastructure is maintained and upgraded so the country can realise its full potential from sporting initiatives.

The Government is expected to play a leading role in delivering sport-related policies and programmes which will contribute to the overall structure of sport in the country. This is something both Government and Opposition can agree on, we hope.

PUZZLING

It is puzzling, therefore, that the National Stadium upgrade has taken so long. At least two major announcements have been made, the latest one in which Sports Minister Olivia Grange reeled off the number of improvements over three years to include more seating and other complementary facilities.

The National Stadium is steeped in sporting history for this is where our world beaters first showed their mettle before cheering fans. At 62, the National Stadium is showing its age, but why is there not, in the interim, even an upgrading of the lighting system using energy-efficient LED technology?

The private sector contributes handsomely to sports infrastructure through sponsorships, partnerships and funding. The municipalities are expected to do their part to enhance community facilities. Indeed, whether one is in search of pitch, a court or a pool, one should not be too far from their community.

Jamaicans are passionate about sports and our athletes have made their mark around the world as top competitors in athletics, cricket and netball, among others. Since Jamaica first entered the Olympics in London in 1948, she has earned some 88 medals and hopefully we will see the black, green and gold taking many glory laps around the Paris track this summer.

Let’s not forget that nationalism is woven into the fabric of competitive sporting events. We cannot fail to properly equip the next generation of sportsmen and women.