I have been visiting the Anna Regina Community Centre Ground (ARCCG) on a regular basis, including playing cricket matches there. On each occasion for the last four weeks, the site has been quite depressing and perhaps it has even become a laughing stock.
Recently, a spectator became uncontrollably amused after a cricket ball that was only three deliveries old was lost within the ground due to the vast amount of breeding bushes that surrounds the unkempt drains. In this modern age he asserted? Those were habitual scenes that existed two decades ago when we were forced to play on rugged fields and endured the agony of many unfinished games because of lost balls. Unfortunately it seemed that little has changed since then, except that the balls are now being generously replaced with frequency.
To begin with, the physical structure including sections of the fencing, the score board, press box, concrete Centre and the toilet facilities are all in a dysfunctional state. The main pavilion also has several loose and old zinc sheets that create loud noises in the heavy wind and if they fall-off, someone may seriously get injured.
A female spectator recently had to endure the embarrassment of seeking urgent relief elsewhere after she could not have used the washroom because they were locked. This has been the state of the ARCCG for quite some time and even the appointed IMC of the Anna Regina Town Council has failed in their constitutional responsibility in up-keeping the ground to even the minimal of standard.
It has been about two months now since the ground hosted Republic celebrations and disastrously countless splints of broken bottles are still embedded there. Surely a cricketer should not risk diving for neither a ball there nor a footballer engaging in a sliding tackle, because it is dangerous. I recall Ramnaresh Sarwan and the Demerara team previously refusing to play at the ARCCG in an inter-county match until it was thoroughly cleaned because of a similar threat. Why the authorities ignominiously continue to neglect the most important and priceless ground on the Essequibo Coast is a colossal guess.
There is no guessing though that the ground is frequently being used to host numerous fairs and other activities, while the Council is handsomely compensated. Yet there is very little indication that even a portion of the income is being spent on its maintenance. Why glass bottles and heavy duty vehicles continue to be allowed in the ground during soggy conditions are questions that have now become exhausted. Don’t the authorities care for sports in Essequibo?
There are close to one hundred persons, mostly youths including females that use the facility daily to engage in various sporting disciplines. I am encouraged because I have observed promising talent, many of whom crave for the opportunity to become national athletes through guidance, intense training and proper facilities. This will not be achieved however, if this facility is not prudently managed, maintained and appropriately secured in the future.
This facility has the potential to become a first class venue and every opportunity, including much more support from the Government and corporate entities should urgently respond to make this a reality. The idling concrete Centre can be refurbished and made into a member’s pavilion with dressing rooms and even have a canteen to cater for fans as is the case with many grounds such as Bourda and Everest in Georgetown.
There is an interest to have flood-lights installed and hopefully this can be realized as soon as possible as I have advocated previously.
Advantageously the ECB cricket Hostel is just next door and should be incorporated for easier access for the players during encampment. The North Essequibo Cricket Committee along with devoted cricketers must be commended for selflessly devoting their time and personal resources to develop and maintain excellent pitches, while the footballers have done the same to erect goal posts.
The GFF under Mr. Christopher Mathias has revived the sport in the region and this is a positive sign for the athletes. Notwithstanding, the challenges of preventing the animals from entering the ground is useless with fallen fences and without security personnel. These sore issues cannot be ignored further given the strategic and critical establishment of the ARCCG. It is time the authorities act with intent and save this facility from being completely ruined.
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