Patterson Answers Critics

Date Published: 
Jamaica Gleaner

THE government is in the process of launching a wide-ranging drive to develop sports facilities across Jamaica with special focus on the National Stadium complex.

In addition to upgrading facilities at the National Stadium, Prime Minister P.J. Patterson announced that government is committed to providing two sports complexes in each parish. He added that there are plans to construct a permanent Hall of Fame Centre to the northeast of the Independence Park Sports Complex.

The Prime Minister, who was speaking at Thursday night's Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the Hilton Kingston Hotel, said the government is prepared to assist associations "but we cannot be expected to assume the sole responsibility for doing so."

Through the Sports Development Foundation (SDF), which Patterson said has spent over $200 million in supporting various sporting bodies, he noted that "they (SDF) have been implementing an ambitious programme of building two sports complexes per parish."

With such expansion in mind, Patterson argued that the country will have to make use of what is at their disposal "because Jamaica has not reached the stage where our national sports facilities can be dedicated exclusively to one sport."

The Prime Minister said: "What we have are multipurpose facilities. The National Stadium complex is the premier facility and as such all sports must be afforded the opportunity to utilise it. As in the case of cricket at Sabina Park, or hockey at Mona, sporting associations are expected to provide their own specialist facilities, although we are prepared to assist in this regard."

An attack was launched on the country's football facilities by FIFA vice-president Jack Warner, of Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday. Warner described playing facilities here as a 'tragedy.'

The government does not share Warner's view as according to Patterson "resources have been spent to upgrade major sporting facilities such as the National Stadium Complex, Jarrett Park and GC Foster College.

"The National Sports Council, over which I preside, developed the National Sports Policy five years ago, before the national awakening brought on by the success of the national football

"The government did not wait to join any bandwagon. The government, through the National Sports Council, recognised that it needed to carefully put in place a course for the development of the nation's sporting activities. In order to enhance the objectives of the sports policy, this administration set up a special source of funding. Revenues that would flow to the Consolidated Fund have been channelled directly to the development of sports. It has made a difference that sports does not have to compete with other vital areas such as health, education and security for budgetary funding," the Prime Minister said.

At the induction ceremony, five of the country's most outstanding sports personalities were inducted into the Hall of Fame. The inductees are track athletes Donald Quarrie and Dr. Cynthia Thompson, footballers Lindy Delapenha and Dudley Smith and allround sportsman G C Foster. The five joined 11 others who were inducted in 1989 and 1990.