THE BLACK ROCK/Courland Beach Sporting Arena, constructed for the beach volleyball competition in the Commonwealth Youth Games in August, will again be the venue for a beach soccer tournament during Tobago Day celebrations early next month.
Plymouth/Black Rock assemblyman Niall George made the announcement on Tuesday during a THA district town hall meeting at the Black Rock Multipurpose Facility.
The completion of the arena in August, ahead of the opening events, followed a week of spats between Sport Minister Shamfa Cudjoe, THA sports officials and Chief Secretary Farley Augustine over delays in getting the facility ready in time for the matches.
THA officials had promised the facility would have been ready for the events.
George, in his opening remarks, alluded to the spats.
“It brings me much joy because a lot of detractors thought it would not happen,” he said.
George, who is also the assistant secretary Division of Settlements, Public Utilities and Rural Development, said the arena, meant to be a legacy project, was undertaken through consultation with the villagers.
“So we know that this facility is not one that would become a tourist attraction but one that will be utilised not only by the community but by the broader Tobago.
“On that vein, I am here to tell you that it will be utilised as part of Tobago Day celebrations where a beach soccer tournament will be held.”
Tobago Day is being observed on December 4.
Chief Secretary Farley Augustine told the audience that permanent toilet facilities, bleachers and lights will be installed at the facility.
He added a small staff will also be assigned to the facility so the sporting groups and other organisations can utilise it.
“We not building it as a trophy,” he said.
“We grow up in a culture where we like to put things in cabinets and wash them once per year, put them back and lock the door.
“The facility is not there so we can drive past and say it look nice, the sand white. No. The facility is there to enhance the community, to allow for the community to use it.”
For example, Augustine said, village leagues could be held at the sporting arena instead of the playing field at Plymouth.
“It belongs to you, the community…..It is to be used for your development. And more than that, it is also an avenue through which we can have sport tourism because we are going after other opportunities to host international teams and events right here in your communities of Black Rock and Courland.”
Saying he heard there was some “tussle” about the name of the facility, Augustine joked that he did not wish to be drawn into any “village bacchanal.
“All I know, it (facility) is between Black Rock and Courland and I require the both of you to take very good care of the facility.”
He also said the THA plans to do some minor clean-up of the area on the opposite side of the road.
“We had conversations with SOS (Save Our Sea Turtles) and one of the things we agreed on is to have some small facility across there that they can store their instruments, their equipment that they use in the preservation of turtles’ lives.”
Augustine said the THA will ensure there are park benches under the trees, that the gazebo is redone properly and safely and that there is access to public toilet facilities.
“If Tobago is to get a lot more blue-flagged beaches, one of the requirements for your beach to be blue-flagged is that your beach must have appropriate toilet facilities because we want to know that the waste is not coming into the water when people come to use the beach for recreational purposes.”