Now a watermelon patch and a squatter’s paradise, the Manny Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella, South Trinidad is in need of a desperate facelift as the stadium that is only 12 years young, seems to be heading into ground.
The stadium is dilapidated and has an influx of watermelons. The pitch itself seems unusable, the drainage is an obvious problem and the track around the field needs to be redone. It is also reported that the doors and bathroom fittings are missing.
"It seems there is no accountability in Trinidad and Tobago anymore. Those people who fail to look after the stadium should be made to pay. They have a duty of care, a responsibility to the citizens. This is nothing short of criminal negligence”, added one SWO member.
The Brian Lara Cricket Academy (now a fete venue) in Tarouba conceived in 1999, began in 2007 and was expected to be completed in time to host matches for the 2007 Cricket World Cup is yet to be finished some 6 years and counting and the cost of the project has surpassed $800 million.
Mind you, the Minister of Sport is spending over $1.4 billion dollars on the construction of the Aquatic Centre, Cycling Velodrome and National Tennis Centre and can't spend a mere third of that to refurbish and maintain the stadiums in T&T, including the Hasley Crawford Stadium and its parking lot that looks like a rally cross circuit.
About the “Manny”
The Manny Ramjohn Stadium meanwhile, along with three others (Dwight Yorke, Ato Boldon and Larry Gomes Stadiums) were erected for the 2001 FIFA U-17 World Cup, which was hosted by Trinidad and Tobago. It also hosted games from the 2010 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup.
The Stadium is named after a former long-distance runner who was one of the first persons to win a gold medal for Trinidad and Tobago at the CAC Games in 1946. He was also part of the first group of five athletes to represent Trinidad and Tobago in the Olympic Games (1948). Between 1936 and 1951 he achieved 96 victories, 40 second-place and 13 third-place finishes.
The Stadium is owned by the Trinidad and Tobago government and is maintained by the Sport Company of Trinidad and Tobago (SPoRTT), a company which is run by the brother of the Ministry of Sport's Permanent Secretary Mr. Ashwin Creed.
SPoRTT is designed for the construction, operation and maintenance of high quality sport and recreation facilities for both communities and high performance athletes who are called to national service among other things.
On March 8th of this year it was reported on the SPoRTT website by Anthony Blake, Facilities Manager at SPORTT, that 80 percent of the works to the field at Larry Gomes and Manny Ramjohn are complete and should be ready for use in approximately eight weeks. We are in August some 5 months since Blake's announcement and still no progress.
The Manny Ramjohn is used by many teams including; W Connection, Police FC, T&TEC FC, St. Benedict’s College, Pleasantville Secondary and Naparima College. Its capacity is 10,000 and was built under the Basdeo Panday/Jack Warner regime. It was formally opened on Sunday 15th July, 2001 by the Honorable Prime Minister Basdeo Pandey, Minister of Sport & Youth Affairs Manohar Ramsaran, and CONCACAF President, Austin Jack Warner.
To date, the Stadium is one of the reasons why many T&T Pro League games are constantly being postponed, and this is a problem that directly affects crowd support.
And what makes these circumstances quite interesting is the fact that most of the main stadiums in T&T are always under construction for parties and fetes. This results in only one stadium being available, the Marvin Lee Stadium (Dr. João Havelange Centre of Excellence) which is owned by former FIFA vive-pesident Jack Warner. Clubs are then forced to rent his facility with little or no gate receipts in return.
Mind you, the Minister of Sports Mr. Anil Roberts is in-bed to the former Sport Minister Jack Warner, the former FIFA vice-president who was banned by FIFA from all football activities was one of the main reasons the Sport Minister got into his current insubordinate position.
In 2008 the then Sport Minister Gary Hunt promised to spend some $102 million to refurbish the four stadiums, however nothing was done. Current Sports Minister Anil Roberts also promised the same, but to this day nothing is being done. It should be noted though that the fields are usually fixed in time for Carnival with millions being dished out to stage fetes and concerts. And by the time the carnival season is over, the fields are left in a state of disrepair.
The lead persons assigned to the Manny Ramjohn Stadium are Darren Edwards and Rhonda Osborne. Clearly, they are not doing their jobs or simply don’t care about our athletes and youths of Trinidad and Tobago.
VIDEO: - Manny Ramjohn current state