ELIZABETH GONZALES AND JELANI BECKLES
TT junior swimmer Aqeel Joseph, despite still being a teenager, said he would like to help youngsters in his community of Maloney as he was fortunate enough to have several people motivate him, including 2004 Olympic medallist George Bovell.
Joseph, 18, was among those who spoke at the sod-turning ceremony for the Maloney Community Swimming Pool, on Tuesday morning. The $8 million, six-lane 25-metre pool is located opposite the newly-built Maloney Police Station at Flamingo Boulevard. The pool is expected to be completed in ten months.
In a follow-up interview with Newsday, on Wednesday, Joseph said, “Giving back is not a problem because at a point in time somebody had to give back in order for me to learn. It is only right for me to give back.”
Joseph, a former Holy Cross College student, said he has received motivation and guidance from his parents, along with former TT swimmer Bovell and current national swimmers Dylan Carter and Cherelle Thompson.
Joseph, who has been with Sea Hawks Swim Club for the past four years, thinks the new pool will encourage youngsters to get involved in swimming.
“To be honest, I don’t think Maloney has produced any swimmers...but with the building of this pool and the lifeguards and instructors you could take 30 seconds to walk across, you could learn to swim. The building of the pool could en-courage swimming.”
Joseph plans to utilise the pool as it is only a three-minute walk from his house.
He also said the pool could improve Maloney’s image. “Everywhere in Trinidad will go through a phase. Evidently, on the news, you are not hearing about any crime in Maloney. You are seeing that the Maloney crime stage is slowly dying down and with a new sporting institution it would help it to decrease rapidly.”
Minister of Social Development and Family Services and MP for Arouca/Maloney Camille Robinson-Regis, on Tuesday, also said the construction of the Maloney pool will change the community and remove the stigma of being a violent area.
“The criminal activities are not the norm of Maloney so I don’t want anyone saying this is just a den of criminals, it is not,” Robinson-Regis said.
Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs Shamfa Cudjoe said the Maloney pool will be the ministry’s ninth community pool in TT.
On ways the pool could benefit the youth, Cudjoe said, “It’s particularly for the development of young people engaged in sport and youth development activity that places them at the forefront of their development and along a promising path for a promising future.
“We remain committed to working to archiving the Government mandate to the sport, not just by upgrading facilities but by making the necessary investment in sport.” She said the ministry had provided $117 million towards the development of athletes.
The Sport Minister said the Maloney pool can help earn revenue also. “But these facilities are not just for the benefit of the athletes, theses are epicentres of change. They encourage social interaction and economic development within the community because you can host events and competitions.”