Special assembly for reconstruction of Carl Oliver Track and Field Stadium


Senior Sports Reporter


NICHOLLS Town, Andros -- It was like Christmas came a couple months early for the students of the Huntley Christie High School.

One day after the official announcement was made at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, a special assembly was held at the high school in Nicholls Town, Andros, on Friday for the reconstruction of the Carl Oliver Track and Field Stadium.

The visiting delegation, headed by Bahamas Olympic Committee president Wellington Miller, Evon Wisdom, Sports Officer at the Ministry of Education, Tim Munnings, the Director of Sports at the Ministry of Sports and Michael Tovan, representing Mondo, were well received as they were joined by Carlton Bowleg, the Member of Parliament for North Andros and the Berry Islands.

During the ceremony, which was attended by Huntley Christie, whom the former North Andros High has been named after, the principal, Edward Rolle, the staff and the students entertained the visitors before a site inspection took place on the facility adjacent to the school.

"It's good to see that there is a surface here. It's always good to have something than nothing at all," said Tovan, who returned to the United States to begin preparing the design and the layout for the new Mondo surface that will be sent back to the Bahamas for its final approval.

"That's a lot of work today because the stadium was built in 1992 and it's not up to standard. We will do a few adjustments before we come back here to install the surface. But I like the location of the track. I think it's at an advantage being near a school."

Tovan said he was impressed with the response they got from the school and so he's even more eager to try and get the track completed within the six-month period that they anticipate. He said it should take about two weeks for their engineers to complete their work before they send it here for the approval. Once that is done, Tovan said the work will commence immediately.

Once the facility is completed, it's expected to meet the requirements for international training and even competition, according to Tovan, which should open the door for so many other incentives for the island.

Bowleg, a former student of North Andros High, said he expected more damage to be on the surface, but he was surprised at what he saw.

"The track is still holding a very good surface, so I don't think that Mondo will have that long a period as they originally expected to have this track competed," Bowleg said. "I was very pleased with the response from the students. It mean that they are looking forward to it.

"Like I told them during the assembly, this is something that was in the making for a long time. I'm just glad that we are going to finally get it done. We have been told that once the design is completed, we will get to look at it and make any final adjustments. So we are looking forward to that."

Through the Pan American Sports Organisation, Miller said the BOC was able to secure a grant of $200,000 for the resurfacing of the track. As a native of Andros, Miller said the project will also revitalise the community.

"With this track going there, this will provide a redevelopment of Andros," he stated. "It will attract a lot of things. A lot of things will change. I'm looking forward to getting on it soon and opening it up early next year."

The two principal ministries are on board with the project from the break and Wisdom said the Ministry of Education welcomes the idea.

"I congratulate the Bahamas Olympic Committee for working with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture," Wisdom said. "I think that because of this collaboration, a lot of things will happen. We bring different things to the table. In our case, we have the children and the infrastructure.

"So it depends on all of us working together to assist the development of this community. As you have seen, infrastructure is there and now it's important for us to work with PASO and the Olympic Committee to make it happen because they have provided the funding."

With Andros being so close in proximity to New Providence, Wisdom said there is a lot of spin off effects that could take place as a result of the new stadium when it's completed.

And Munnings said his ministry, headed by Minister Michael Pintard, is looking for ways in which they can benefit from the resources of international bodies, such as PASO and the International Olympic Committee, which is willing to assist the country in its sporting endeavours.

Munnings is a former team-mate of Oliver, whom the track and was named after following the bronze medal performance by the men's 4 x 400 metre relay team at the 2000 Olympic Games. "This is an exciting time for the students of Huntley Christie High School," Munnings pointed out. "The excitement was shown by the reception we received today. We know that this will have many spin offs for this community.

"So this will not only provide an avenue for the kids to develop their athletic skills, but it will also provide an economic opportunity for the entire community. The process for this will start with the Mondo representative, who will provide us with the design for us to approve.

"Once that is done, they will bring in their technical team and lay down the surface. It's expected to take about six months to be completed. But this is a very good day for the community of North Andros and the students of the Huntley Christie High School."

In another part of the trip to North Andros, the principals will talk about the addition of the restoration of the gymnasium that is adjacent to the school. There will also be an extra piece on the coaches and students talking about their expectations for the new facility.

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