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Call to address issues at Willis playing field

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“We are not neglecting the community of Willis, we pay a lot of attention to the area, we visit the area a lot, we have a grounds man assigned there for cutting the field but that is more than cutting. The work that has to be done there is for over a long-term period to correct that problem.”

Words from the Coordinator of Sports at the Ministry of Sports, Kerlon Peters, in response to an accusation that the Horeb (Willis) playing field in New Hampshire, Saint George is being neglected and a call for it to be maintained with strict regulations in place.

Videos posted on social media earlier this month by Administrator of the Combined Northerners sports club, Glen Alexander, showed the unevenness, foot path and holes at the playing field.

The videos also showed villager Kenly “Casaman” Bain voicing concerns and recommendations to the authorities.

In the interview at the GFA-sanctioned playing field, Bain expressed that respect is not being shown for the playing field, which is home to three football clubs (Combined Northerners, Hampshire United and Willis Youths).

He called on villagers to refrain from tying animals there, making foot path through the field and driving on the field. He called for dogs to be restricted from getting onto the field to excrete and for security officers.

Mr Bain, who was a former grounds man of the field, cited that the authorities are “too slack and slow” and the situation speaks to “lawlessness.”

He added, “this place has to be reconstructed, have more regulation and proper maintenance.”

One young man pointed out that players usually slip into the holes, risking being damaged during football games.

Mr Alexander, who in a video said they were posted for attention to be paid to playing field, said “we need to get this rectified.” He added that players are now playing on the adjacent hardcourt.

“It is a wonderful area; however, some work must be done…we are making an appeal for getting the Horeb field up and running , there are lots of young people within this community, Combined Northerners along with the other clubs, we are hoping that we can get some work done here,” he pleaded.

After being made aware of the videos, the coordinator of Sports in a June 10 interview, said rain is delaying the commencement of work at the Horeb playing field to resolve the ‘chronic’ recurring issues there.

He said the area had been visited on numerous occasions, the most recent in November last year by a team comprising the Minister of Sports – Senator Norland Cox, himself and an engineer, to do an assessment of the area.

Peters said it was determined that the first approach is to construct drains to help channel out the excess water in the field which was tried in the first two months of the year. Added to that, he said work on the field was to commence two weeks ago but because the area is under the rain forest, it rains frequently causing the field to be always wet; consequently, making it difficult for a tractor to get onto the playing field.

Further, he noted plans to also construct a French drain from the centre of the field with gravel and stone so that the water can drain from different areas.

Speaking to the importance of proper drainage, the Sports coordinator suggested that there seems to be a water source under the playing field as “it’s very soggy.”

“We understand the situation and we are working on it…the contractor is just waiting now to do the first phase of the work which is the drainage around the field to see if it can help with the draining out of the field…,” Peters reiterated.

According to him, other works to be done include resurfacing the field and erection of signs, adding that there is a maintenance team that attends to be field.

Regarding the tire marks on the field, Peters said the Ministry has spoken to the individual who lives on the side of the field and operates a mechanic shop. However, he said that individual is giving assistance in trying to solve the problem.

The Sports coordinator asks the community members to avoid driving through and making tracks through the field and tying animals on the field, pointing out that these actions destroy the field over time.

“We want students to perform well, we want persons to go out and enjoy physical activity and so we are trying to ensure that the facility meets the requirement,” he said.

The coordinator of Sports also shared that other fields throughout the island were visited, noting that similar problems were observed. Thus, he said there are plans to collaborate with the police and Ministry of Agriculture for assistance.

He also noted that plans are afoot to upgrade facilities at playing fields in preparation for their re-opening to ensure that COVID-19 regulations can be adhered to.

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