Catherine Hall playing surface will be ready for friendly int’l, says MoBay deputy mayor
ST JAMES, Jamaica— The playing surface at the Montego Bay Sports Complex in St James is expected to be in “tip-top shape” for Saturday’s friendly international between Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, says deputy mayor Richard Vernon.
The commitment was made during last Tuesday’s planning meeting held at the St James Municipal Council, where Jamaica’s head coach Heimir Hallgrimsson expressed concern that the field would not be ready in time for the game.
The condition of the field at the Catherine Hall facility has been criticized, but the St James Municipal Council, which is responsible for maintaining the venue, says the field will be ready for the game which kicks off at 6:00 pm.
Concerns about the field’s condition date back to last year when the Jamaican women’s team played a friendly international against Paraguay on November 10. However, the match went full-time without any serious issues.
Gregory Daley, president of the St James Football Association and chairman of the Jamaica Football Federation’s Competitions Committee, told the meeting that he was expecting the field to be in good condition come Saturday and pleaded for the maintenance program to be stepped up.
“We do understand the dynamics of preparing a pitch for a game in two weeks against preparing a pitch for an international game two/three months down the road,” Daley said.
“What we want to implore you is, as best as possible, that the maintenance continues because we understand and we know how it feels when every national game comes to Jamaica and it is at the national stadium in Kingston and we know we have the capacity to host national games here,” he continued.
Daley added: “One of the things we always hear is that the pitch is not up to scratch, we understand what is required. We here in St James want national games to be here and we know the only venue is Catherine Hall so we must keep this pitch in the best condition at all times so when the opportunity comes we can grab it even if it means closing it down.”
Bryce Grant, the acting CEO of the Municipal Council said there was an ongoing maintenance program at Catherine Hall but pointed out that most times they were not given adequate notice to get the field ready for major games.
He also said that more than once the Jamaica Professional Football Association, the body that runs the Premier League, would book dates for games but would then cancel the request closer to the time the games are to be played.
Vernon, who chaired the meeting, said he was aware of the criticism of the condition of the surface but said the main reason for the cancellations was the cost to use the complex and not the state of the surface.
The deputy mayor said if the field at the Montego Bay Sports Complex was to be brought up to the standards obtained internationally, they would have to close the facility for the work to be done.
He added that if that level of work was done then the cost to use the field could go up and that would result in even more cancellations.
“What obtains internationally is that surfaces are completely overhauled once a year, but we have not done that at Catherine Hall and I am not sure if it is done here [in Jamaica] at all,” Vernon told the meeting.
“Let us be clear about the reality that we face in Jamaica. The intention is to go down that route but it cannot be that we go through all that and persons expect us to make it available – but then the cost might be prohibitive,” he added.