What the pork is dat’, ‘Stop all Bacchanal’, ‘More football less crime’, ‘Save our field’, ‘Respect our youth don’t shut them out’, ‘Which is more important our youth or our pork?’ – these were some of the messages displayed on placards at Friday’s protest by football officials and lovers, who feel the Sab Sporting Facility is being used and abused by the various events taking place there dating back to Carnival.
First it was carnival activities followed by Wet Fete, then on Sunday footballers young and old as well as officials who felt that enough was enough sprung into action. Demonstrators felt that another event like Pork Fest which took place on Sunday, would leave the playing field resembling a pig pen.
The protest march began around 5:30 pm from the entrance of the field on the John Compton Highway. From there, protesters made their way just past LUCELEC and made a U-turn back to the playing Field. The march ended about 30 minutes later with demonstrators circling the stage set up for Pork Fest.
Among the protesters was VSADC Coach Sean Kurtain. He said: “From the beginning of the year we had carnival and other activities which really set us back. Then they had Wet Fete, and you can see over there the field is still in a state of disrepair. They are brining this Pork Fest here, when to me there are so many other venues that can be utilized. We have the Promenade and Pigeon Point. I don’t know why it is in the heart of the city in terms of the Vigie Playing Field they decided to have this event. We had a tournament here that just started and having “Pork Fest” here really set us back. That is why I am demonstrating.”
He continued: “I have no issue with what the government wants to do with their ground, but they have to respect sports people in St Lucia and it is time sporting facilities remain sporting facilities, until the promoters or organizers using it find a way to bring the ground to its original state after it has been used.
Protest Coordinator, Trevor Daniel said: “Our main purpose is to raise the awareness and sensitize the pertinent people of the importance of the field and more importantly, make them aware of the repercussions of encouraging events like this on the field. We have nothing against the event itself, but there is also a time and place for everything. We had a couple of incidents where previous events left scars on the field that are yet to be dealt with. We the users are suffering from it. There are tons of bottle caps, broken bottles and nails on the field right now that pose a danger and threat to the kids and the users. We just want to make sure consideration is given to the people who use the field every day.
Chairman of the Castries Football Council (CFC) Curtis Paul said: “We just want to state that we have no issue with the Pork Festival. Actually, a lot of our members patronize that festival. What we trying to do is ensure the safety and the security of the children. We would also like to say to Barons Food and all the other corporate sponsors, we wish them all the best. In the interim, what we are doing is letting the public know that we are in dire need of maintenance of this facility. We have had two major activities and to date we have not received any funding or assistance from persons coming here to fix the damage that has been done. That’s the real issue that we have.”
Will there be any more protests in the future if action is not taken? When asked, Paul responded: “I think the ministry will allow good sense to prevail and they will work with us. We have received confirmation from the Director of Youth and Sports, indicating that we will have a conversation to iron out our differences and problems associated with the playing field. I think they are willing to work with the CFC moving forward with the maintenance of the field.”
Despite heavy rainfall Pork Fest went ahead as scheduled on Sunday. It was certainly not showers of blessing for Sab Sporting Facility, but instead weather more