Opposition Leader Godwin Friday says he is happy that World Cup cricket is coming to St. Vincent and the Grenadines in 2024, adding that the government must ensure that the economy benefits from the games.
He told the media recently that it is important to note that while SVG is looking forward to the exciting on-the-field events, … it’s not only fun and games.
“We must also look beyond the fun and games aspect of this important matter, especially as the government has announced that it will be spending an estimated $12 million on the Arnos Vale Playing Field in the lead up to the World Cup.”
Friday said that SVG must, therefore, look at the Cricket World Cup more broadly than the fun of the games.
“We have to look at the fact it is or ought to be an opportunity to create jobs and economic opportunities here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Also, … we should see it as a springboard for renewing interest and investment in our local cricket.”
SVG and six other Caribbean countries — Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Guyana, St Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago – and the United States will host two matches in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024.
“As a cricket fan and a Vincentian, I am happy that international cricket will return to St. Vincent and the Grenadines and that we will have a chance to see T20 World Cup games here,” Friday told the media recently.
“This is a very good thing for us — for St. Vincent and the Grenadines — and cricket fans, I believe, will be delighted by the prospect of having T20 games played here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines…”
He said that for far too long, SVG has been left out of international cricket and major regional cricket events such as the Caribbean Premier League.
“Despite the fact that this government spent a lot of money 15 years ago, when the World Cup competition was played in the Caribbean, you will recall then we got some warm-up games but none of the official matches. We really do hope that all goes well this time around and that we have a successful event.”
The opposition leader said the renewed interest should be from the school to the national level in all formats of the game, and for male and female cricketers.
“Opportunities, as we well know, to play professional cricket are ever increasing worldwide. We should help to prepare our young people to take advantage of those opportunities.”
The opposition leader said that the local 10/10 tournament has grown over the years with considerable success and provides some opportunities for local cricketers.
“In sum, the government owes it to all of us, to fellow Vincentians, to set out how it is going to take advantage of this opportunity. It needs to indicate how many jobs, temporary or otherwise, they expect may be generated from the event, how much investment we can expect to receive and what it will cost the government to have the tournament here.”
Friday said the government should also have a plan to indicate how the cricket world cup would be used to reinvigorate cricket in SVG.
He said that Jamaica took the cost-benefit analysis into account in deciding how to invest money in cricket — whether to go for the hosting of the games or to invest at the grassroot level.
“It is my view that we can have both in this event here in St. Vincent and Grenadines,” Friday said.
“So, in sum, we must have a plan. The government must indicate that they have a plan to make the most of this opportunity for us all in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“We cannot squander the opportunity by being unprepared for it. It’s not enough to just get the games, we have to think of how we can leverage this to the benefit of all Vincentians.”
Friday said his New Democratic Party is expecting that the government will do all it can to ensure also that local contractors have a chance to bid on any work that is being done at the Arnos Vale Sporting Complex to prepare for the World Cup.
“Opportunities must be available to the local contractors and those contractors should be encouraged and supported as much as possible to bid for the necessary work,” Friday said.
“The government must also give us the assurance that the upgrades that they intend to do will be done in time for the 2024 tournament. That’s June next year. That’s not so far away. And keep the nation informed about the costs of the improvements that are necessary for building public confidence and support in the event.
“Finally, the government must also ensure that the facility is utilised to the fullest following the World Cup and that it’s used especially by our young people will not be unnecessarily restricted.
“We know that this is a delicate matter, sensitive matter and many communities where public facilities have been put under lock and key and are not being made properly utilised by the various communities. So obviously, if you’re going to spend $12 million to have a greater facility it can’t just be for one event and then be off limits to the local people to use for their own sporting developments,” the opposition leader said.