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Information, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister, Olivia Grange, is giving the assurance that the integrity of the National Stadium field would be preserved, during the staging of the National Sports Gala at the facility on October 4.
The Gala is to celebrate the achievements of the country’s Olympians, at the Beijing Summer Olympics in China in August.
Miss Grange said the field is expected to be in good condition for Jamaica’s crucial World Cup qualifiers against Mexico and Honduras on October 11 and 15, respectively.
The Minister was speaking at a post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House on October 1.
This assurance comes against the background of concerns raised and reports surfacing regarding the state of the turf, following the staging of the Independence Day Grand Gala, at the National Stadium on August 6. Alarm was raised over the reported damage to the field by activities associated with the Gala.
However, responding to questions from journalists, Miss Grange said the damage sustained was consequent on the “field not being properly maintained. over the years.”
“The Independence Grand Gala did not damage the field. And, in fact, Jamaica Football Federation President, Captain Horace Burrell, and former football Technical Director, Professor Rene Simoes, cleared that up.publicly. So, I just want to clear that up,” Miss Grange outlined.
Miss Grange advised that the stage, which would be used during the Sports Gala, would be placed adjacent to the field. She added that a maintenance team would also be on standby, to commence preparatory work on the field for Jamaica’s October 11 World Cup tie, “immediately after we pull down the stage, and take the equipment out of the stadium.”
“The field will be kept in perfect condition for the match, and Jamaica can be assured that the field will not be a problem for the players,” she emphasised.
The Minister added that issues which, reportedly, contributed to the deterioration of the Stadium turf were being addressed. This includes providing the necessary funding to procure the requisite and suitable equipment, thus ensuring that a proper maintenance regime is in place.
Regarding recent concerns raised by Chairman of the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC), Mayor Desmond McKenzie, about what he said are existing deficiencies at the Stadium facility, which pose a potential fire hazard, and danger to patrons attending events at that venue, Miss Grange advised that those matters “are being addressed over a period of time.”
“At this stage, I don’t think that there is anything outstanding. But, if there is..it’s minor and is being addressed, and by the 11th of October, we will be fully compliant (with the International Football Federation’s standards). The venue will be up to standard,” Miss Grange assured.