A viable approach to sports for St. Maarten

by Rudy (Louis) Engel

There remains no doubt that sports contributes to a healthy life and that it is the core obligation of any government to provide facilities to promote such. Facilities such as these should be built by government (as is the case), and must be run privately; however, I also believe that it must provide desired results.

A lot of emphasis has been placed by the various governments on the building of basketball courts for several neighbourhoods. In principal there would be nothing wrong with this, however, time and again it has been proven to be a waste of the taxpayer’s money. After a very short time, the courts are vandalised, used as derelict hangout sights and even a place to intimidate and bully others. In my opinion, the reason that these non-productive and destructive activities take place is directly linked to lack of committed participation, proper training and supervised involvement. Emphasis must be put on the quality rather than quantity.

It is my opinion that government must seriously consider building sport centres rather than basketball courts. Be it enclosed or open-air, such a facility provides far more benefits than just a basketball court. The benefit of this type of facility is that it offers first and foremost physical exercise, which is the key element in all sports. Next to physical exercise, choices should be given of the various sports that can be practiced within the layout of the facility such as basketball, volleyball, dodge ball, gymnastics and other sports. More importantly, teaching and supervision are essential for proper usage and achievement and will lead to the desired effects.

If a person wants to be involved in sports they have to show commitment. It is an unequivocal fact that, that which is given easy, is not appreciated and is misused and abused. A basketball court should be built for its purpose which, in this case are practices and tournaments. If not built specifically for or with this intention, it defeats the purpose and becomes a place of derelict and nuisance. It is a misuse of valuable and much needed funds and location. The same must be said for any other sports facilities.

It is also an indisputable fact that, that which is not properly taught or exercised is non-productive. Building basketball court(s) or any sports facility for that matter without providing training defeats the purpose. When considering constructing sport facilities all elements must be included.

A sports facility without facilitators does not provide desired results. Any sports facility built must have a sports trainer/physical education teacher whose job it is to teach the relevant sports and provide guidance in the sense of which direction a person can or should pursue in sports. All sports trainers must make physical exercise an integral part of their training.

The benefit of having physical exercise as the core of any sports facility is that it opens doors for many others whom would not necessarily choose to participate in a specific sport, but want to maintain a healthy body and lifestyle. It also brings adults and youngsters together, thus encouraging more discipline and respect for others. The presence of a trainer or phys-ed. teacher and participating adults on the sports facilities may serve as a deterrent for those who choose to abuse such facilities and/or impede others from making proper use of these facilities.

Supervision and management are of paramount importance to the continuation and success of such a facility. Guarantee and accountability must be given of proper usage. A board, preferably comprising members of the neighbourhood and phys-ed. teachers must be instituted with organisational and supervision tasks.

As taxpayers, we all contribute financially to providing these sports facilities and centres. It is only logical for one to get involved in a productive manner in order to guarantee proper usage and benefit from such a project.

I am a strong proponent of building facilities for the purpose of sports development. The key word here is development. I must insist that quantity is not the way to go. It looks good on paper to say that every district has a basketball court or a sports facility; however, it looks really bad when one drives by and sees that it is dilapidated and misused.

It is by far more productive to have a few well run sports facilities, which will attract suitable users. I am certain that if implemented with a complete infrastructure, people will find ways and means to reach these facilities in order to benefit from the various programmes offered.

Source: The Daily Herald

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