Millions spent to refurbish facilities – CEO Francis Williams-Smith
By Franklin Wilson in Trinidad & Tobago
The Twin Island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, just off hosting the 5th Summit of The Americas, will once again show their capacity to deliver on the big stage when they play hosts to the First Caribbean Games, July 12 – 20, 2009.
Hosting mega events has now become a norm for a country that has already carved a name for itself with their Carnival and Soca, thousands if not millions look forward to these activities yearly.
Back in September 2001, Trinidad also hosted the FIFA Under-17 World Cup and now in 2009, the Caribbean will converge here to compete against each other in Athletics, Boxing, Netball, Volleyball and Tennis.
Chief Executive Officer of the Caribbean Games Francis Williams-Smith in an exclusive interview with Kaieteur Sport at the LOC Office, Lystra Lewis Administrative Centre, Hasely Crawford Stadium, emphatically stated that they are ready to host the Caribbean for what would be an unforgettable time.
While everyone is just focused on Trinidad as the main venue, Williams-Smith said that Tobago, often forgotten, will be playing an equally important part in the hosting of the games. Tobago will be hosting the Tennis and work on the new courts, have reached an advanced stage. “Overall I would say that works there are 75% and above completed. The courts are not completed, but by the 23rd when I visit Tobago they will be finished because there will be an event on that day.”
This event the CEO explained would be focused on the tennis courts and the lights will be assessed with adjustments being made accordingly. “But I think everything there will be in hand.”
Touching on the issue of the hospitality of the Tobagonians to ensure the success of Tennis there, Williams-Smith assured that that is a guarantee. “The Secretary in charge there, Mrs. Gloria Duke, and she has done a fantastic job along with Ms. Annette Nauth, coordinator of the Office, Allison Moore-Alleyne and Ray Sandy are all competent, dedicated and hard working persons who are leading the way there.”
Training for volunteers and National Olympic Committee Assistants will take place on tomorrow and Wednesday ensuring that things will be covered from the Human Resource support, point of view.
Community Based Games
Apart from the Tobago Community, another community targeted to host games is Chaguanas, which will accommodate Beach Volleyball and the community of St. Augustine which will house the Games Village at the University and where indoor Volleyball will also be played at UWI Gymnasium.
The dining facilities and residences at the UWI Campus will also be used during the games.
“We are making all the detailed arrangements to ensure that accommodation, transportation and food – the priorities for any well run games are well looked after and are managed properly. I dare say that we may have some hiccups but we are trying our level best to make these three elements (transportation, food & accommodation) and excellent service for the visitors, 1,400 athletes and officials, who we have coming in addition to the two to 3,000 volunteers who we will have.” The Mayor and Borough of Chaguanas have already given their full support according to the Games CEO as well as the Business Community in the area. “They have come out and will come out to give us the support that I think we deserve and the general support that the games warrant.”
Chaguanas is Central Trinidad and the attraction of male and female Beach Volleyball will fit into the Caribbean flavour of things that the host country is trying to ensure happens, noting that they don’t want to go the way of the ICC World Cup Cricket. “Where we become so conscious of what we cannot do that we forget what we can do. The Caribbean Games is about what the Caribbean can do, and I want to emphasise this point.”
The Woodbrook Youth Centre, Port-of-Spain, will host Boxing, a facility that brings back fond memories to Williams-Smith having seen the likes of former regional boxing icons, H.A. Clarke, Johnny De Peaza and Carlos Marks exhibiting their skills at this facility years ago.
The Jean Pierre Complex, situated within the Hasely Crawford Stadium, will host Netball and Trinidad has already, through their Minister of Sport Gary Hunte, signaled to Regional Powerhouse Jamaica, that they will win the championship. Barbados will also be in contention as tough challengers.
“We have completed laying down brand new courts for Netball and it looks very colourful and we will be hoping to have our test event there, shortly.”
With regard to the Hasely Crawford Stadium, the venue for Athletics, work is ongoing. The T&T National Championships on June 21st will be the test event for the new track that has been installed at the venue.
“The roof has been completely redone, the seating is being completed and we are expecting that the Sport Company, which has been the implementation arm of the Ministry of Sport, will execute the responsibilities that they have and that we will have a successful event in the track and field.”
“So overall, I would want to express my gratitude to the Prime Minister, The Honorable Patrick Manning and his Cabinet who have supported the Games, they have also indicated that they will ensure that the Games are successful. I think it’s a watershed event for the Caribbean.”
The CEO said it is their aim to focus on youth, community, church and other groups to come out and enjoy the games. He said they will be making provisions for this category of enthusiasts and supporters.
“We want these young people to come to the games and to see our Caribbean stars in action. These are some of the planks on which we have built the games – one of community, one of youthful engagement, friendliness and participation and reaching out.”
This is the inaugural Caribbean Games, which will be held every four years. Williams-Smith said that they are hoping that the next host of these prestigious games will be Cuba followed by Jamaica.
“And because of the fact that the government of Trinidad and Tobago has committed to the games – I feel certain that Cuba and Jamaica and the other countries in the Caribbean Diaspora will feel a sense of Caribbean unity and integration and put the Caribbean Games as the Beacon to shine the path down the road for us to follow.”
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