The re-opening of the rehabilitated Stadium East running track in Kingston, on February 13, was the first major achievement of the Ministry of Sports during the first 100 days since the Government took office on January 5.
Repair work was funded by the Sports Development Foundation at a cost of $43 million. The track, which was closed late last year, was completed well within its scheduled time under the supervision of German sports manufacturing firm, BSW Regupol.
Minister with responsibility for Sports in the Office of the Prime Minister, Hon. Natalie Neita-Headley, said the re-opening of the track would not only provide a warm-up area for athletes participating in meets at the National Stadium, but would also provide the opportunity for additional development meets to be hosted at the Stadium.
Another success was the construction of the first international, standardised baseball field in Jamaica, at the G. C. Foster College of Physical Education and Sports, in St. Catherine. Construction of the field was done by the Government with a budget of approximately $800,000, instead of the required US$12,000, as the main engineer, Damon VanBrocklin, who constructed the field, opted to waive his fee.
Among the other projects undertaken by the new Sports Ministry were the establishment of a sports museum, refurbishing of a standardised Olympic pool at the G. C. Foster College, re-drafting of the Sports Policy and setting up of a Sports Council to serve as an Advisory Board.
Minister Neita-Headley told JIS news that she also focused on the development of a sports marketing and research team (SMART), which would have as its terms of reference, the development and marketing of the sports component of Brand Jamaica. She noted that Ministry is now examining the terms of reference for the SMART team.
“Once that happens, then our facilities can be marketed. We can look at sports tourism, we can look at sports manufacturing, we can look at sports medicine, and we can look at Jamaica as a sporting destination for training from across the world,” she said.
Minister Neita-Headley said focus was also placed on the extension of G.C. Foster College, to include the Sligoville Multi-purpose Complex, in St. Catherine.
“We are looking clearly at ensuring that G. C. Foster widens its curriculum to ensure that our coaches are properly equipped to be ready for export. There are people across the world who would like to have our coaches, and we are looking at ensuring that Sligoville becomes the northern campus of the G. C. Foster,” she said.
The Sports Minister said the Ministry has also started preliminary work on a Sports Wellness Centre, a mandate which she received from Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, who has overall responsibility for Sports,
According to the Minister, the Centre will be a venue, which will cater to the total well-being of athletes.