Jagdeo says Linden will get FIFA, ICC-approved grounds, amid APNU concerns

Last Updated on Thursday, 13 April 2023, 23:06 by Denis Chabrol

Mr. Aubrey Norton                                                                   Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo

In the wake of claims by the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR)-led A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) that a sport facility in Linden was being reconstructed to cater for cricket rather than mainly football, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo on Thursday assured that there would be internationally rated grounds for both games.

“The fact is that Linden will have both a FIFA standard ground and an ICC standard ground, that they can play both cricket and football,” he told a news conference about three hours after one by Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton and Region 10 parliamentarian, Jermaine Figueira. They both criticised government for not consulting with the community and unilaterally deciding that cricket should be the preferred game for Lindeners rather than football which they have traditionally played.

Mr Jagdeo said at the centre of a synthetic track at the Bay Rock Ground would be a football field and the ground at the Mackenzie facility had just been completed to the standard comparable to that at the Guyana Cricket Stadium, Providence, East Bank Demerara. He said lights recommended by the international football federation, FIFA, and the International Cricket Council (ICC) were being procured.

The Vice President’s explanation followed  a stirring call by Mr Figueira for “clarity” about President Irfaan Ali’s Facebook post stating that the Mackenzie Sports Club Ground would have an ICC-rated pitch, though residents of the community are mainly involved in athletics, swimming and football. The opposition lawmaker also said Dr Ali’s social media revelation was in stark contrast to assurances given in the National Assembly that the Mackenzie Sports Club Ground would be retaining all of its customary sporting disciplines. “We have no clear direction and the Ministry (of Culture, Youth and Sport) is somewhat hesitant to give information and more so to even put out a diagram,  a pictorial image of what this facility would look like,” he said.

He said the more than 50-year old Mackenzie facility belongs to members of the community.

Mr Figueira said the levelling of the ground for cricket brings into question if FIFA-standard football could be played at the Mackenzie Ground.

Opposition Leader Norton stressed that “Linden plays far more football than cricket” and so residents were demanding that the ground be uplifted to FIFA rather that ICC standards. He suggested that if government was so interested in cricket in Linden, the administration could upgrade another Mackenzie High School-YMCA ground to play cricket. “The government should not be imposing. They should be in consultation with the people of Linden and and give them what they want,” he added.

But, the Vice President said the upgrading of sporting facilities across Guyana was in keeping with its 2020 election campaign promise, and was not being motivated by race. ” I said, he’s ill advice and he picks up on everything that see he sees race in every single issue, doesn’t do any research whatsoever,” Mr Jagdeo said.