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St Lucia taking notes

Justin Marville

St Lucia taking notes

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Community sports’ big comeback isn’t only happening in Barbados.
Looks like St Lucia is ready to develop grass-roots sports in a big way, too, as a contingent of government officers, led by Minister of Youth Development and Sport Shawn Edward, recently toured Barbados to analyze the sporting facilities across the communities.
Edward, who was accompanied by St Lucia’s Director of Sport Jim Xavier, said it was part of the administration’s concerted effort to raise the profile of St Lucia’s community-based sporting infrastructure.
“I have been in Barbados previously and I know of the playing fields and facilities, but now I am in government with a big responsibility for sports, and I am willing to exchange ideas with my counterparts with a view to improving sporting facilities in St Lucia, particularly at the community level,” Edward explained.
Led by Acting Director of Sport Neil Murrell, a group of Barbados Government officials took Edward and Xavier across the country on Wednesday, showing them the facilities at Orange Hill, Bridgefield, Market Hill and Briar Hall.
And this was after they had toured the historic Kensington Oval earlier in the morning to get a look at the Oval’s President’s Suite and the playing field, along with the area encompassing the concession stands.  
“The real focus is on the pavilions in the communities in Barbados, [but] it is important to come to Kensington [too] because we have a national stadium and we also have the Beausejour cricket facility and we have experienced a couple challenges [with] their efficient management,” revealed Edward.
“There are challenges in terms of making the stadium more attractive to non-sporting entities [and] we really want a multi-purpose facility that can bring in as much revenue as possible.
“So there is a lot that we can take back home with a view towards making our operations a lot more efficient [because] the entire Caribbean is under pressure as far as cash flow is concerned and you want as much as possible to be able to maximize the output from these facilities,” he added.
But the purpose of the visit was two-fold, explained Edward, as the government minister said he would be seeking the views of his colleagues across the region while St Lucia prepared to host the Commonwealth Youth Games in 2017.
“It is something that we are extremely thrilled about,” said Edward of the historic opportunity.
“[But] whereas it is an opportunity for St Lucia to host, I think all Caribbean nations should have a stake in the hosting of the Commonwealth Youth Games, and in the coming weeks, coming months, I will be visiting quite a few of the islands with the view to exchanging ideas and engaging my counterparts to see how best we can make 2017 a success, not just for St Lucia but for the region.”