WITH national pride at an all-time high amid football victory celebrations, CONCACAF director of development (Technical Committee), Richard Braithwaite, has called on the Southern business community to "invest heavily" in the development of sport.
Many South-based football clubs and sporting facilities, have fallen by the wayside, he lamented.
Braithwaite made the call at a San Fernando City Development breakfast series meeting, at City Hall Auditorium.
He said that during the 1980s, the South Football Association (SFA) boasted a membership of over 36 football clubs.
By 1998, that figure had fallen to 12 clubs, Braithwaite said.
"What has happened to facilities such as the Mahaica Oval, Goddard’s Park and the Fyzabad Recreation Ground?" Braithwaite asked. Braithwaite said that many of them are now languishing in disrepair and neglect, but the saddest thing of all is that these sports clubs, steelbands and facilities, are all based in the heart of the wealthiest sector of the economy.
Braithwaite said that the "real tribute" that could be paid to the Soca Warriors, was for heavy investment in the long-term development of sport. Braithwaite knocked the so-called "traditional mindset" which perceive sport as "mere idle recreation."
He said that sport and culture were viable alternatives to juvenile deliquency, drug abuse and crime.
"Sport is the ideal mechanism for motivating many of the youths of the so-called ‘lost generation.’ Their frustration stems mainly from a lack of self-esteem and self-worth," he said.
He said that young people could develop discipline and a positive work ethic due to participation in sporting activities.
Also addressing the meeting was mayor Ian Atherly, who revealed that plans were underway for the creation of an industrial park with modern service and amenities.
He said projects, which were being done in partnership with E-Teck, would also provide services to support the local service sector.