Former national football team captain Dwight Yorke has expressed shock over the response from Tobago Sports Secretary Jomo Pitt to a question posed to him last Thursday about short term plans to fix infrastructural problems at the Dwight Yorke Stadium in Bacolet, Tobago.
Yorke, currently in Thailand as a FIFA legend, accompanying FIFA president Gianni Infantino for the opening of the FA Thailand High Performance Training Centre, said he received a copy of the video being circulated, on Monday, which showed Pitt stating, “My response to the question posed: none,” as he offered no explanation as to why he could not provide an answer about any plans to address the current shortfalls at the stadium.
“To be quite honest, I was shocked at the response and I am disappointed that it’s been allowed to get to this point where access to lights, and proper gym and track facilities are not readily available,” Yorke stated.
Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs Darryl Smith said the process has begun to renovate the Dwight Yorke Stadium. “When we came into office all the stadia were in disrepair. They were never maintained or upgraded and that is the problem that we have had in Trinidad and Tobago,” Smith said.
Smith said since the budget was presented, on October 2, work started on the facility. “The week of the budget, when the final budget was approved, we took $5 million to do some work with the Dwight Yorke Stadium. The same week the budget was approved, we had a team from UDECOTT on the ground meeting with THA (Tobago House of Assembly) at the facility. I want to take a note to Cabinet within the next few weeks to get that job started so we could finally fix Dwight Yorke Stadium and keep it at a level.” Smith said all other sporting facilities in TT will also be upgraded.
Yorke said the Dwight Yorke Stadium is the top facility in Tobago and many athletes depend on it. “The stadium, as we all know, is the premier facility for sport on the island and it is the only real facility for young athletes and footballers to train. This has been going on for some time, in terms of the conditions being unsuitable for these athletes and footballers to use, and it’s disappointing that we are still at that point; so much so that athletes are now refusing to even go to the venue and are now forced to train in foreign countries”, Yorke said.
The Dubai-based former Manchester United striker said he expected Pitt to offer a far better response. “What to me was also very disappointing is that the individual, who was put there in a position to represent in the best interest of the people of Tobago, responded in a manner that was totally surprising. I think we all expected something better and the least Jomo could have done was speak out a bit and explain exactly what the situation is at the moment. Tell us where we are at in terms of the current scenario and where we can expect to go from here with regards to the stadium. But instead of doing that, he took the easy way out,”Yorke added.
Yorke said Tobagonian Paralympic athlete Akeem Stewart is suffering due to the inadequate facilities at the stadium.
“Look at young Akeem Stewart for instance... a gold medallist, who we should be ensuring receives everything he needs, and instead he’s left having to go elsewhere to train.” The former Sunderland man, who is currently an international sports ambassador for this country, said he was hopeful that the problem will be alleviated during the upcoming year.