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Sports in Sangre Grande received a boost yesterday with the official opening of the North Eastern Regional Multi-Purpose Sport Facility at Ojoe Road Recreation Ground. The newly completed multi-million-dollar indoor arena will accomodate basketball, volleyball, table tennis, and gymnastics. It was packed to capacity yesterday with Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs Darryl Smith, Member of Parliament for Toco / Sangre Grande Glenda Jennings-Smith, Chairman of the Sangre Grande Regional Corporation Terry Rondon, Councillors, Aldermen and bus loads of students from neighbouring vacation camps attending.

This modern day structure has a seating accommodation of approximately 800 and is designed to host two basketball games simultaneously.

This facility boasts to be one of the first of its kind in Trinidad and Tobago that has retractable bleachers and floor markings for only basketball.

Specially invited guest Rondon entertained the crowd with an opening “Champion” dance and became emotional as he said that he feels like the community of Sangre Grande are all champions due to the “champion facility”.

He said there was always a need for such a centre within the region and said “it belongs to the community, therefore you all need to take care of it.” He added: “Further employment will be given to community members as it relates to maintenance of the facility.” Jennings- Smith later thanked Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and the Minister of Sport and commended them for their efforts in ensuring the project was completed.

She said it will help youths in her area achieve their dreams.

She acknowledged though that “to whom much is given much is expected” and accepted that she too is responsible for ensuring that the facility is properly maintained and utilised. In reference to 2012 Olympic gold medallist Keshorn Walcott, who is a son of the soil of the Toco / Sangre Grande region, she said the facility will aid in the the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee’s 10 gold by 2024 Olympics thrust.

Smith, discussing the history of the project, said it was one which his Ministry inherited when it was about 60 percent complete.

He gave a special thanks to MP Jennings-Smith for her commitment and dedication in ensuring that the people of Sangre Grande and environs were delivered not only what was promised but rather what was deserved.

He further lauded the people of Sangre Grande for their patience throughout the years and gratitude was also extended to contractor Shanghai Construction Group. Touching on the topic of the Olympics, he noted that this year, TT have not only made history by fielding their most competitors, but also their youngest team, their most females and competitors in the most sports.

The Minister expressed his commitment for continuity in youth development as he promised further investment into sport at primary and secondary school level.

To mark the official opening, both Jennings-Smith and Smith tested their basketball skills, much to the delight of those gathered. Closing the evening’s formalities, the crowd was entertained by an exhibition game between Grande All-Stars and TT’s U-19s who won the quarter 26-18.

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