The Opposition St.Kitts-Nevis Labor Party is being blasted for their shameless lies and attempt to politicize the recent failure of the St.Kitts U15 team to attend a Cricket tournament in Anguilla.
In an interview on FREEDOM FM’s Issues programme Opposition SKN Labor MP Konris Maynard accused the government of “withholding funds” and “denying” the children the opportunity to travel for the tournament. He addressed the unfortunate situation by categorically blaming the Team UNITY Administration for the team’s failure to attend the tournament. MP Maynard said ““They will not be able to defend their championship. What are the priorities of the Team Unity Government?” asked MP Maynard. Maynard also questioned whether the failure of Dr. Harris to withhold financing of the under 15 youths participation in the tournament in Anguilla was “one of the ploys by Timothy Harris to weaken other ministers.” Maynard continued “What rational can this Team Unity government have for denying the under 15 cricketers from going to nearby Anguilla to play in the Leeward Islands competition, at a “time when we are talking about youth and violence and eradicating gang violence, and we cannot find the money to send them over to Anguilla.”
The statement by MP Maynard was flatly refuted and blasted for it’s gross inaccuracies and was categorized by both the Minister of Sports Hon. Shawn Richards and the SK Cricket Association as a blatant lie. In addressing the matter on Thursday Minister of
Sports Deputy Prime Minister Hon. Shawn K Richards stated “I wasn’t aware of it. There had been no discussions with the St. Kitts Cricket Association. When I was told what was said, immediately I called my Permanent Secretary- that’s the most senior technical officer within the Ministry. He in turn called the Director of Sports to see if perhaps the information had reached before the Director but for one reason or the other hadn’t reached before him; and I think that is the responsible thing to do.”
Deputy PM Richards continued “Similarly, when both of them said that was the case [the team had not traveled] I called executive members of the Cricket Association to ascertain what had transpired.”
The Minister said he was given an explanation by the Association which indicated that there had been problems with accommodation in the host country, as well as logitistical and other issues. There were no issues regarding financing or support of the Ministry. This was confirmed by the Secretary of the Cricket Association Mr. John Jeffers who also refuted the claims of the SKN Labor Party MP Maynard and who supported Minister Richards in his report on the matter. Jeffers went on to say that the Deputy Minister Richards and his Ministry have been extremely helpful to the Cricket Association. ,
WINN FM reported that Dennis Phillip, President of the St. Kitts Cricket Association made it clear that “the kids not going had nothing to do with government”. According to President Phillip, the team was unable to take part in the tournament not because there wasn’t enough money to send the youngsters, but mainly because of poor organization.
Mr. Phillip told WINN FM the Association had allocated funds for traveling to the tournament but decided to use the money for a development program for the young cricketers instead. He said the decision not to send the team was based on a number of reasons, some of which had to do with the organizers of tournament.
Phillip said “Travel and accommodations were roughly eighteen thousand to twenty thousand dollars, not budgetary constraints necessarily because we are going to use the funds that we allocated to travel to implement a program. We were not completely satisfied with the arrangements. Hours before, days before we had no knowledge of where the kids are going to be staying. In terms of travel, in even trying to book the kids we had trouble of getting all of them sent out, they would have had to be sent out in groups. It would have meant that some kids would have had to travel without adult supervision. Based on the airline space, the seat availability. And based on concerns of parents, some parents who indicated to us that they were not quite comfortable with kids in school rooms. In addition to that, many of the kids were not prepared in terms of having or passports and even gear. And so, the Association making a decision thought that it would be best that we not participate this year.”
Social Media has been trending with discussions regarding the matter , particularly after MP Maynard accused the Team UNITY Government of refusing to support the team and thus making the team unable to participate in the tournament. In light of the Cricket Association and the Minister of Sports’ clarification on the matter many have been calling for an apology from the Opposition and MP Maynard for their untrue statements and blatant attempt to politicize the matter.
“It is truly sad enough that the youngsters have to go through the disappointment of not participating but to then hear Opposition politicians blatantly lie and seek to gain political mileage from their heartbreak and sorrow is sad and pathetic to say the least,” said one Observer.
MP Maynard has yet to respond or submit any apology.