PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC – Government is unlikely to pursue the construction of any new sports facilities over the next five years as it focusses instead on injecting financial resources into the development of young athletes.
Sports Minister Darryl Smith said there were also several projects started under previous administrations which were yet to be completed, and assured these would given priority as well.
“I am cool with passing through this five-year term and not building anything, finishing what we have, maintaining what we have and let the development fund pump into the young people of T&T,” Smith told an Olympic Committee sports marketing and business conference here.
“We have to move forward with one plan to put T&T on the map. Even the national sporting centres [and] the planning in terms of programmes.”
Currently, projects like the National Tennis Centre, National Aquatic Centre, the Brian Lara Stadium and the Cycling Velodrome are still under construction.
The Brian Lara Stadium, especially, has been a protracted project, having been hit by controversy over the years. It was started in 2003, was expected to host games during the 2007 Cricket World Cup, but remains unfinished.
Smith said his aim was not to leave a legacy of monuments but of accomplishment.
“There is no way we going to full up that cycling track every weekend,” he pointed out.
“There is no way we going have that Tennis Centre filled to capacity every weekend. We know that. Just like the other stadia that we have now. And that is the problem.
“Every politician that comes in – because there is no data to guide them – infrastructure and development is the way forward to leave a legacy: ‘I build that!’”
Smith said since taking office last September, he had discovered issues of duplication in roles with other government ministries and was already working to streamline these operations.
“I was blown away when I met with the Minister of Education and the Minister of Culture to hear they also have sporting departments and sporting bodies doing the same thing we [are] doing and we have never met,” he explained.
“There are people in all different sections, doing and fighting for the same thing. Why don’t we pool our resources so we could propel and do four or five things?”