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Plug pulled ‘too soon’

Justin Marville

Plug pulled ‘too soon’

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The plug might have been pulled prematurely on Blenheim and Barbados’ premier athletic meets.
But National Sports Council (NSC) director Erskine King says the organizers of both the Powerade Barbados Secondary Schools’ Athletic Championships (BSSAC) and the Pine Hill National Primary Schools Athletics Championships (NAPSAC) never allowed the NSC to address their security concerns over the St Michael venue before scrapping both meets for this term.
King made the claim yesterday at a Press conference at the NSC’s headquarters following an initial meeting with both bodies a couple weeks ago over using Blenheim as a replacement for the National Stadium, where the new track is not ready for use.
“We were ready, willing and able to facilitate both of the competitions at Blenheim if they had come back to us with their concerns, and the only concern I have heard of through the media was the question of security,” said King.
“But we had put the security on the table from early, and they were supposed to come back to us, both NAPSAC and BSSAC, but that never occurred. [However] the [National Sports] Council is not responsible for security on the island; neither is BSSAC or NAPSAC, and we were ready to discuss with them and the Royal Barbados Police Force to police the area during those competitions, but that option was never afforded us.
“What we were saying is that when you have a major event in Barbados – and not just in Blenheim but anywhere – [the responsibility for policing that falls to] the Royal Barbados Police Force and I don’t think that anybody should start second-guessing the police. The opportunity should have been given for the police to say “Look, we can’t do this” or “We can do it” and that wasn’t done,” he added.
King’s comments come in light of recent decisions taken by the organizing committees of both bodies to forgo taking their meets to Blenheim over security concerns and postpone the events for this Hilary term.
It’s the latest development in the ongoing saga surrounding the status of NAPSAC and BSSAC, whose staging came into question after the relaying of the track at the National Stadium was delayed.
Kensington Oval was initially considered a prime replacement until the West Indies Cricket Board invoked their one-month exclusivity clause prohibiting non-cricketing activities from being held at the Oval ahead of this month’s Test match against Zimbabwe.
The NSC then proposed Blenheim as a suitable alternative since it was one of few venues that could hold a 400-metre track, but both organizing bodies shut down the option following publicized shooting incidents at the venue.
However, King says the NSC is still willing and able to stage both meets within a matter of weeks if the NAPSAC and BSSAC boards decide to change their minds.
“We’re here to facilitate sport, so I’m saying that if NAPSAC and BSSAC have a change of heart, it is a Sports Council facility and we have committed to doing it even at this stage once the two bodies say yes,” said King.
“[But] what has happened is that we would’ve lost the week in trying to manicure the field to have it in pristine condition, but we were prepared to put all the manpower on the board to do it.
“The plan as discussed with them and put on the table was that we would have created a sort of a tent city to be able to ring the whole field with tents for the spectators, the competitors, officials and so forth. [However], all that came to naught because we have had no response from them relative to that,” he added.
King went on to add that excessive rains and low temperatures delayed the relaying of the track at the National Stadium.
Meanwhile, there will be a Bajan athletics invasion of Trinidad and Tobago this weekend.
Thirty-two track-starved Barbadian athletes and four officials, headed by new Athletics Association of Barbados (AAB) president Catherine Jordan left Barbados on three different flights for the twin-island republic in search of CARIFTA Games qualification last night.
The AAB hastily made arrangements to facilitate the country’s junior athletes to compete at the Trinidad and Tobago CARIFTA Trials, at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, today and tomorrow.
Prior to leaving, Harrison College’s physical education teacher, Adrian Thorne said while the tour was not the ideal situation, it was the best option for the athletes.
“Most of the athletes have been training and competing on grass and although some of the fields have deteriorated, the grass circuits have helped to keep the competitors fresh and injury free.
“We are confident that this tour will see many if not all of the athletes making the times in T&T and we hope to see a repeat of last year where most of the athletes who went to T&T returned home and made the qualifying times.
“While some may argue that a possible dark horse could be left at home and not given the chance to qualify, all of these athletes have been performing on grass and showing the potential so they deserve the opportunity and we expect that they will meet the standard,” said Thorne.    
The CARIFTA Games are slated for The Bahamas, from March 29 to April 1.
Athletes?going?to?Trinidad and Tobago: Allana Ince, Danielle Scantlebury, Tristan Evelyn, Michael Nicholls, Kentone Browne, Mario Burke, Jebarri Cumberbatch, Shamar Rock, Rivaldo Leacock, Juwan Augustine-Mayers, Antonio Weekes, Ramarco Thompson, Shae Nurse, Tamal Atwell, Daley Carter, Kyle Farrell, Levi Cadogan, Romario Antoine, Akeem Marshall, Akeem McCollin, Charles Greaves, Jade Searles, Ariel Jackson, Tiana Bowen, Tre Adamson, Brandon Hope, Jerrad Mason, Kion Joseph, Hakeem Clarke, Tia-Adana Belle, Jalisa Burrowes, Timeka Jordan
Officials: Catherine Jordan, Adrian Thorne, Desiree Crichlow, Raymond Rudder.