Playing sports on any surface that is not designed for that purpose can be a very tedious task and can result in aches and pains, which ultimately leads to many discomforts.
Many communities have been doing this for years, to ensure that Jamaica produces the best athletes for world competitions.
To give communities proper facilities to engage in sporting activities, two entities – the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund and the Sports Development Foundation (SDF) – are integrally involved to ensure that multipurpose courts and facilities are in top shape and up to par.
The SDF, with its mandate of contributing to the development of the nation, through sports, has embarked on a mission of rehabilitating multipurpose courts across the length and breadth of the island.
The rehabilitated multipurpose courts give the users an advantage in the game of their choice, as they are smooth, better structured, marked and prepared and as such, are better playing surfaces which will enhance the performance of the athletes.
In an interview with JIS News, General Manager of the SDF, Ludlow Watts, describes the entity as an “engine of growth”, as it helps to develop the nation through sports.
He outlines that the main operations of the Foundation is to build infrastructure, including multipurpose courts, seating, lighting, among others, which will contribute to producing better athletes within the island.
The multipurpose courts consist of netball, volleyball and basketball. “These facilities are brought into the communities and the schools, and that is how they get to play. Let us face it, when you have some rural communities or some schools that have no netball (or basketball) facility, how would they learn the game or get interested in the game?” he says.
“By taking all these facilities right across the country,” he continues, “this helps people to get more involved in these sports and it allows coaches to get into these communities, so in the end, better and more athletes are produced from this involvement of the SDF.”
Outlining the selection process, Mr. Watts notes that the Foundation undertakes a needs assessment test each year to determine what is required in each community, “but at the same time, we get numerous requests from the communities, schools, and clubs each month.”
“So, we go into a community and see that there is no court, but there are a lot of people in the community. So we look at the needs, we look at the amount and level of people that will be involved and based on the request of the communities, we measure them and decide what to do on the level of facilities,” he adds, pointing out that the Foundation is only able to fund 40 per cent of the requests that are received each year.
The General Manager notes that on average, about 28 to 30 multipurpose courts are built or renovated each year. “We are engaged in about six fields each year. We build changing rooms and bathrooms, probably two or three per year. We do fencing in a lot of facilities, in terms of around the courts and the fields, probably about 15 per year, and we do some amount of seating as well, and that is really about the scope of what takes place each year,” he tells JIS News.
Mr. Watts notes that the facilities have transformed lives within the communities. “If you go to many of these communities you will see that people are engaged in using these facilities. Let us look at the Edward Seaga Stadium in Tivoli Gardens, that is a product of the SDF that is where they play the Premier League games and international games. So that is a major product from which the community has benefited,” he says.
“The game of basketball has benefited tremendously from all these multipurpose courts islandwide, so the impact has been tremendous, in terms of the various facilities which we have provided,” he adds.
Community members participate in a game of netball on a multipurpose court that was rehabilitated by the Sports Development Foundation (SDF), which is funded by the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund, Billy Heaven, notes that the rationale for renovating the facilities is to ensure that structures are in place where young people can interact and take part in activities.
“The more you can provide at the community level and at the micro level of the society, where people can come and develop their skills and talents, be it in sports, music, the arts, whatever you can provide for that type of activity, then it becomes useful, not only as a social tool but it can equally be as important as an economic driver,” he tells JIS News.
He informs that whilst the CHASE Fund is not involved in the areas of sports development directly, “what happens is that we make 40 per cent of the funding we receive from the Gaming Industry available to the SDF. The SDF takes on the responsibility of allocation and administration and implementation of sports development projects.” Mr. Heaven adds that the CHASE Fund has direct responsibility for administration.
Recipients of the facilities from several communities across the island are grateful for the works that have been undertaken in their communities.
Public Relations Officer for the Committee, which operates the Eden Park Sports Development Complex in St. Mary, Andrew Coward, informs that the facility was built 16 years ago, but it has been resurfaced, recently.
“It has just been resurfaced by the SDF, it has not been totally completed as yet, because the courts need marking, but the field is 95 per cent complete,” he says.
He notes that before the renovations were done, “the community was segregated in one respect, where we used to have uptown, downtown, now everybody just blend in and play together. There are surrounding communities which also use the facility, so it jells us together.”
“Where we had violence, we have no violence right now, so it is really helping in that aspect,” Mr. Coward says.
Public Relations Officer, Multicare Foundation, Elizabeth Campbell, informs that the Breezy Castle Centre sports complex in Downtown Kingston was officially opened in 1995, and that the multipurpose court was recently resurfaced and remarked.
“Everyone in the community is very happy with the resurfacing of the courts as it makes a lot of difference. It is much easier on their feet and everything is clearly marked out, so they are able to move that much quicker on the court,” she says.
The complex houses two multipurpose courts for netball, volleyball and basketball, a football field and a mini stadium.
She informs that the complex is very extensively used, and it is like “a green oasis within the community.”
“The vision of the centre is part of a broader vision for young people and the establishment, in particular, of the multipurpose courts can impact the schools and communities in the downtown community. They help to strengthen the bond between schools and communities,” she adds.
“At the centre, we adopt a holistic approach to child development and use sports as a catalyst to create peaceful co-existence, a culture of tolerance and understanding among the boys and girls that come from the diverse communities, and everybody knows that when you come down here, admission is your best behaviour,” Miss Campbell tells JIS News.
She informs that a number of the boys and girls who have participated in the multicare sports programme have represented Jamaica, adding that generally the complex is used by persons who live and work in the downtown community.
A member of the Barbary Hall community in St. Elizabeth, Yvette Vassell, tells JIS News that everyone in the community is excited about the sporting complex which was recently constructed.
“It keeps the youth more active and keeps them out of trouble,” she says, informing that some of the features of the facility include a football field, an all purpose court – netball, volleyball and basketball.
Miss Vassell says that persons from other communities also use the facilities. “We are glad for it. In the past, whenever we needed to play a netball competition, we had to go to Newell High or Barbary Primary School or we had to mark it out and play on the grass, so we are very grateful for it,” she adds.
Chairman of the Crawford multipurpose sporting complex in St. Elizabeth, Kenton Wright, informs that while the multipurpose facility has not been completed, other areas of need have been constructed, which are integral to the development of the community.
“We have a football field, and a cricket pitch is within the area of the field. The SDF has just completed the fencing,” he said, informing that the facilities also include bathrooms and changing facilities.
He notes that the facility has motivated the youths, because they run home from school in the afternoons with the zeal to go and practise, and play football. She says that the construction has significantly impacted the community, “as each weekend the members of the community come out in large numbers to see what is going on, watch them play, and to cheer for them.”
Mr. Wright says that a management committee has been put in place to ensure that the facility is properly kept and maintained.