Let's learn from Treasure Beach
THIS newspaper has found good reason previously to laud BREDS, the admirably proactive community organisation in Treasure Beach, south St Elizabeth, which has been instrumental in the development of a sports complex there.
We now find even more reason to shower praise following news that BREDS has attracted the joint support of leading public and private sector agencies in the further development of its sports facility.
The story in Wednesday's sports pages tells us that the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund, the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) and the Digicel Foundation will spend $38 million on a new, multi-purpose building.
The facility will include an area for conferences and other such events, changing rooms, an emergency medical room and space for catering.
This is just the latest in a multi-phased development since work first started on the 17 acres of leased government land in 2010.
Over four years, well in excess of $30 million has been spent on netball, basketball and tennis courts; a full-sized cricket field with three pitches; an irrigation well with a solar pumping system; bathrooms; a pavilion; and a football field.
All of this development has come from creative, community-driven fund-raising efforts, targeting the private and public sectors and other donors, local and external.
Indeed, the land previously privately owned, was bought by Government at the instigation of then member of parliament for South West St Elizabeth, the late Mr Danny Buchanan. He bought into the vision that it would one day become the site of a world-class sports tourism facility.
It is important that readers recognise that for the conceptualisers of the Treasure Beach Sports Park, this is not just another community development. It is meant to be an energiser in the drive to fill hotel rooms in Treasure Beach and the wider south St Elizabeth as Jamaica's south coast tourism product grows.
Head of BREDS, Mr Jason Henzell, made plain the long-term vision when he told the Jamaica Observer two years ago that "in a few years it will be the leading sports park and academy in the Caribbean in terms of facilities, development and training of young sportsmen and women and very importantly, in terms of attracting sporting teams from overseas".
Already cricket, football and other sporting teams from Britain, North America and the Caribbean have been visiting Treasure Beach to compete and relax in that community's uniquely peaceful and tranquil atmosphere.
As the facilities there are expanded, those visits will become increasingly numerous.
In building their sports tourism product, the Treasure Beach community and their supporters at home and abroad are telling the rest of us that even in these hostile economic times there is always a way, once there is the will.
All of us should take heed.