THE 54th edition of the Southern Games is on again on March 18, at the famous Guaracara Park in Pointe-a-Pierre, thanks in part to an infusion of funds from the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs.
On Wednesday, Darryl Smith, Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs, presented a cheque valued at $150,000 to Carol Grandison, event coordinator of the Southern Games, to assist in the staging of the event.
On hand for the presentation was Trinidad and Tobago’s first Olympic gold medallist, and Sport Ambassador, Hasely Crawford, himself a former participant and victor at multiple editions of the Games.
Last month, the Southern Games Organising Committee announced that the annual athletics and cycling meet was cancelled due to the existing state of the economy and the financial constraints experienced in raising funds.
The Southern Games is an annual athletics and cycling meet that is considered the Olympics of the Caribbean. This year’s staging of the Games however, will see only local athletes competing at the prestigious event.
In reminiscing on the history of the Games, Crawford said, “I am a product of the Southern Games and these Games are the warm-up for the CARIFTA Games, taking place at the end of March (in Nassau, Bahamas).”
Crawford recounted a number of world renowned and locally well-known athletes whose sporting careers would have included participating in the Games events: international athletes such as Bob Hayes, Bruce Jenner and locals including Roger Gibbon, Edwin Roberts and Hilton Mitchell.
The 67-year-old Crawford expressed his gratitude to the Sports Ministry and looks forward to continuing to work with the Ministry towards sport development in Trinidad and Tobago and the promotion of Trinidad and Tobago in sport regionally and internationally. Speaking at the cheque presentation ceremony at the Ministry’s Head Office at St Clair, Smith said, “The Ministry thankful for working closely with Crawford and the Southern Games Committee. This is a national, iconic event, and the Ministry therefore could not allow these Games to be cancelled this year.”
Jim Clarke, chairman of the Southern Games Organising Committee, said on Wednesday, “I have to thank Mr Crawford and also the Minister of Sport because they are the ones who really pushed for the Games to (come) off.” Clarke stated that the event will only be staged on one day, rather than two days as has been the case previously.
Noting that it will be a strictly local affair in 2018, Clarke added, “I want to thank Petrotrin for putting things in order. (On Monday) we had a meeting with Petrotrin officials and they guaranteed us that they will get the track and the venue ready for us for the 18th.”
He ended, “we’re asking (sponsors) to come back on board.”