CHAIRMAN of the Sport Company of Trinidad and Tobago (SporTT) Douglas Camacho knows sporting venues are in need of renovation, but a lack of funding continues to be a challenge to keep them in usable condition – or even allow them to stay open. Without repairs, they may be deemed too hazardous to use.
Speaking to Newsday on Wednesday, coaches Gunness Persad and Sherwin Joseph highlighted the issues at the Manny Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella.
Persad is a long-standing coach at Simplex and Joseph is a coach at Maximizing Athletic Potential (MAP). Athletes from those two clubs use Manny Ramjohn to train.
Among the problems are: the lighting system is not working; the stands have not been accessible for over a month; and parts of the track are in a deplorable state, including the finish line and the start line for 100-metre runners.
Joseph said, “The blocks for the 100m start, they don’t stay on the track, and now we would have to have people standing on the blocks while the athletes are going down on their mark…that is unsightly when you having a decent-calibre games in the Manny Ramjohn Stadium.”
Nevertheless, the quality of the football field is regarded by many as the best in Trinidad.
But Joseph said the poor state of the track is preventing the venue from hosting meets.
“We have lost about five track meets that we usually host,” he said.
The Southern Games Invitational, MAP Juvenile Cup Games and the MAP Invitational Games are among the meets held at the venue in the past.
Persad is calling on officials to look into the matter.
Joseph is concerned that TT will never fulfil its potential in track and field.
“It is not only how many athletes in south (we will lose)…it affects the entire athletic population.”
Camacho, who knows other venues need work, such as the Larry Gomes Stadium in Arima, is aware the Manny Ramjohn Stadium needs renovating.
“The stadia itself, the actual stands…need a lot of work,” Camacho said.
Manny Ramjohn, he said, "is one on the agenda of SporTT, when we get some money.”
But until then, Camacho said Manny Ramjohn and other stadiums may have to close temporarily.
“Yes, it is in significant need of repairs, but it is not just the running track.
"The reality it is quite possible that we might find ourselves in the awkward and unfortunate position of actually having to literally take stadiums off line, shut them down for a while.”
The safety of all those who use the facilities must be considered.
“If the review reveals that it is a hazard, we can’t have people (at the venue) and a piece of iron beam falls,” Camacho said.
He is optimistic that funding will be available in the near future.