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Opposition Leader Godwin Friday has described as “embarrassing” the fact that the Men’s National Football Team (Vincy Heat) are forced to play two of its “home” matches in the Concacaf Qualifiers overseas.

On Nov. 8, the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation said it received a correspondence on Oct. 16 from the National Sports Council indicating that St. Vincent and the Grenadines will host games in the 2024 T20 Cricket World Cup.

As a result, extensive rehabilitation is underway at the Arnos Vale Sporting Complex in preparation for these games and the Concacaf Nations League Qualifiers scheduled for today (Tuesday) and the Concacaf Women’s Road to Gold Cup Qualifiers on Dec. 5, 2023, cannot be played at the Arnos Vale Sporting Complex, the federation said.

“The SVGFF explored various options locally, including the possibility of hosting the matches at Victoria Park. Unfortunately, these efforts did not yield approval,” the federation said.

It announced that the men’s qualifier will take place in Grenada today and the female team’s qualifier will be held on Dec. 5, with Trinidad and Tobago as the first option and Grenada as our secondary option.

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“… it’s so embarrassing that here we have a football match … on Tuesday, … our football team playing a match on Tuesday against Belize and we can’t play it in St. Vincent because you don’t have a playing field. You got to go and do it in Grenada,” Friday said on NICE Radio on Monday.

He asked why the government could not close the sporting complex on Wednesday, the day after the match. 

“First of all, why they couldn’t wait until Wednesday to say OK, fine leh we play the football match on Tuesday and then on Wednesday, start doing the stuff that they want to do to repairs?” Friday said on New Times, his party’s radio programme on NICE Radio.

“And then if you can’t use the playing field at Arnos Vale, good lord, you want to tell me after 23 years of the ULP in office you don’t have a second ground in St. Vincent and the Grenadines you can host…” he further said on his party’s radio programme.

“You have to take our home advantage. Really, that’s what it is. When you play at home, you have an advantage and natural because there’ll be a crowd behind you,” the opposition leader said.

“You’re going to give that up and surrender it because you don’t have a playing field. In this day and age and to tell me that you have been looking out for young people. Nah? You gotta be joking.

“So, these are things that we have to look it straight in the face and say, ‘Listen, this administration, this ULP, they have a good talk, but they don’t believe.”

The opposition leader said some people tell him that all politicians make promises that they do not keep.

“Listen, I’m saying I have never made you a promise that I haven’t kept. Don’t blame me for somebody else’s mistakes. Don’t blame me for somebody else ole talk and empty promise.”

He said that if anything, people can criticise and say he does not boast or “go over the top enough.

“That is because I want to make sure that when I tell you something that I will deliver, I’d rather surprise you pleasantly by saying that I have done more than I promised you rather than say I promised you the moon and I cannot even deliver anything here on the ground.”

He said that is how he would approach governance.

Friday said there needs to be more lighted playing fields in the country.

“That doesn’t take much to do. All it takes is a commitment and the will to do it,” he said, noting that the government promised a national stadium but delivered a track at Diamond.

“They come and they lay down a track there and you still don’t have washrooms. That’s not what they promise. What they did is they do something hastily towards the last election to say we’re delivering on that promise,” the opposition leader said.

“That is not the promise that they made the people and people realise that,” he said.

He noted that the country needs a home for the performing arts and culture.

“You must have that. How you going have a country like St. Vincent and the Grenadines when you want to have a big cultural event, you can’t use Peace Mo because, first of all, Peace Mo is too small and it’s out of date,” he said.

Friday said that while many of these activities are held at the privately-owned Russel’s Auditorium, that facility is “not meeting the needs of our performing arts and of talented people.

“So, we need to give that a home to inspire people, but also to give us a place to showcase our culture,” he said, adding that in addition to building national identity, culture must generate a livelihood for people.