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Hon. Penn calls for restoration of cricket into VI culture

- Disappointed with state of Greenland Field, Opposition Leader in support of its development
Cricket has crept out of the VI culture as a sport but should be restored, says Hon. Marlon Penn. Photo: VINO
8th District Rep. Marlon Penn said it is a false notion that Virgin islanders do not take part in the sport of cricket and that they are not interested in having a facility for cricket
8th District Rep. Marlon Penn said it is a false notion that Virgin islanders do not take part in the sport of cricket and that they are not interested in having a facility for cricket
Some $500, 000 has been budgeted for the Greenland Recreational Park project, Photo: Reuben Stoby/VINO
Some $500, 000 has been budgeted for the Greenland Recreational Park project, Photo: Reuben Stoby/VINO
Hon. Penn says to deny the children and residents of the largest community in the VI access to the only recreational facility that the community has is
Hon. Penn says to deny the children and residents of the largest community in the VI access to the only recreational facility that the community has is "criminal". Photo: Reuben Stoby/VINO
Hon. O'Neal (inset) recalled playing cricket as a youth at the Greenland Recreational Park and hopes Government would be able to find the funds to develop the facility.
Hon. O'Neal (inset) recalled playing cricket as a youth at the Greenland Recreational Park and hopes Government would be able to find the funds to develop the facility.
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- Noting that there is a false notion that Virgin Islanders don’t take part in the sport of cricket, Representative for the 8th District Hon. Marlon Penn-in a strong speech in the House of Assembly today March 23, 2012- has called for the speedy development of the Greenland Field where cricket should play a large part in the sport activities there.

Hon. Penn’s call has also received support from the other side of the floor as Opposition Leader Ralph T. O’Neal OBE also said Government should find some way to develop the field.

According to Hon. Penn, there is a false notion going around that cricket, for some reason, is not a sport that VIslanders take part in and that they don’t want a cricket field in East End. He then recalled his grandfather telling him stories about how cricket was a grand affair back in the days and names such as Ralph T. O’Neal and Ivan Lettsome came up.

“You heard the love and the passion in his voice when he spoke about cricket and how cricket used to be in our Territory, in our communities and the amount of involvement that locals had in the sport cricket, in our Territory. So for whatever reason Madam Speaker, the whole love for cricket and the sport of cricket has crept out of our culture and we need to somehow try to find a way to restore it,” Hon. Penn said.

The 8th District Representative also said he wanted to make it clear that he is not trying to transform the Greenland Field into a cricket field. “What I am saying is that we have to be practical about the way we are developing our sports facilities, Madam Speaker. We have to be practical with how we develop the Greenland field...We have limited land space and limited financial resources and we have to develop a field or facility that could accommodate multiple sports and cricket is one of those sports...There are tremendous economic opportunities for cricket…the whole social atmosphere that happens when cricket is going on...Right now we have the West Indies Test Match with Australia I think is going on in the Caribbean...and you see the energy that cricket brings to a community and to a Territory and am sure that the economic benefits to St. Vincent and St. Lucia and other places are tremendous.”

The youthful representative noted, however, he by no means believes the Greenland field could be developed into such a large facility to accommodate international matches but it could be developed into a facility that could accommodate a number of sports and could also benefit from some of the Regional competitions such as the Busta Cup Competition that was held some years ago in Road Town when the field was filled to capacity and economic benefits were garnered from hosting matches.

“We need to find a way to develop that facility in Greenland properly so it could accommodate as much sports as possible as that was the initial intention for the facility but what is on the ground are two different things...We can’t go another year with the people of the 7th and 8th Districts not being able to use the facility.”

He noted that $500, 000 has been budgeted for the Greenland Field project, which is enough to get the project started and that the Minister of Finance Dr. D. Orlando Smith and the Minister for Education and Culture Myron Walwyn have also given their commitment to the development of the project.

Looking at the present state of the Greenland Field, Hon. Penn lamented that whenever he speaks about the Greenland Field there is a deep sense of hurt and disbelief the develops. “From what was allowed to happen to that facility over the last four years Madam Speaker, I still can’t understand why the most important institution in our communities in the 7th and 8th District and even the wider BVI were left in virtual ruins for the past four years....The Greenland Field isn’t just somewhere when as a young man or woman you played and learn about sports…For me and many others from that community it was somewhere where we learned about life... We learned many lessons at that facility and it is a facility for the life of me I can’t imagine why the place is in the state it is in currently for the past four years.”

To deny children & residents access to Greenland Field is Criminal

Hon. Penn added that, to deny the children and the residents of the largest community in the VI access to the only recreational facility that the community has is criminal. “Four years of no recreational facility for such a large community, Madam Speaker, the social damage caused by the closure of this field will be felt by years to come by our community, many, many years to come Madam Speaker.”

He also recalled that a community meeting held for young men of the East End community some seven or eight months ago, the young men had expressed their concern about the closure of the facility and that one individual had said the closure of that field displaced some 17 sports including baseball, softball, cricket, track and field, basketball, netball and soccer (football).

“Madam Speaker, I was further disturbed during the Standing Finance process when I learned that some four hundred thousand dollars has been spent on that facility and all we have now at that facility right now, Madam Speaker is the moving of dirt, ten feet of bush and some light poles which are in the middle of the field.”

Economic issues and hardships experienced

The first term representative, who won the 8th District seat over former Deputy Premier Dancia Penn QC, said economic issues and hardships were caused as a result of the lengthy closure of the field. “The Greenland Field served as a source of economic stimulus for the small business of the community. At any given Saturday or Sunday when cricket or football was being played on that field there would be around 500 to 1000 patrons facilitating or enjoying a game of cricket or football. Madam Speaker, this is 500 to 1000 customers for the small business in our community. That’s 500 to 1000 customers for the bars, for the restaurants, for the supermarkets, for the bakery.” He added that he even had a discussion with the owner of the bakery in East End, who disclosed to him that on a Sunday she could have guaranteed a certain amount of sales but that has decreased since the field has been closed.

“Considering the times that we are facing right now as a Territory, a facility like that is greatly needed and needs to be restored...Cricket is big business, Madam Speaker, and as a Territory we have to find ways to capitalise on the economic benefits that can be derived from cricket and other sports...We need to stop talking but need to start developing sports tourism strategies. It is time for action...I think Greenland Field has been a significant part of that strategy. However, it must be developed properly and in consultation with all the sporting organisations in the Territory,” Hon. Penn argued.

Meanwhile, Opposition Hon. Leader Ralph T. O’Neal OBE, said he was shocked, stunned and surprised to hear Hon. Penn speak about the state of the Greenland Field since he was under the impression that the issue of the field had been sorted out.

He also said he has pleasant memories of the Greenland Field where he played cricket when he was living in East End and teaching at the school there. He recalled one time when his school came up against the Long Look school, which included some powerhouses in the game such as Ivan Lettsome but his school won and for their achievement Tr. Willard Wheatley led them on a parade from the Greenland Field to the school after which they went to enjoy some lovely guavaberry.

“I would hope that despite the doom and gloom the Minister of Finance would find somewhere, somehow to be in a position to help get the Greenland Field in a state that the young people could enjoy the park,” Hon. O’Neal said.

9 Responses to “Hon. Penn calls for restoration of cricket into VI culture ”

  • Plain (23/03/2012, 19:43) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Johnny will be happy with this LOL! But seriously Marlon is right! I have seen the Digicel cricket tournament held at that park before it was destroyed and trust me, A LOT of people came out, it has great potential!
  • AirDrop (23/03/2012, 21:13) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Strongly Agree!!!
  • hope hill (23/03/2012, 21:45) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    What dam cricket malone? Suckteeth
  • zeeeeeeeeeeeee (24/03/2012, 03:42) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    where the hell is Johnny the horse race hater...lol
  • question (25/03/2012, 23:42) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    so penn is for cricket over horse race.....
  • Gayle (26/03/2012, 19:46) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Sounds good . Hope i will go to Tortola to play some day :)


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