Return to sport a priority

FIGHTING talk has been issued by the new assistant minister for sport and culture who said returning to competitive sport at home and abroad post Covid was a priority.

Last week Deputy Hugh Raymond was appointed Assistant Minister for Economic Development, Tourism, Sport and Culture with responsibility for sport. Picture: ROB CURRIE.
Last week Deputy Hugh Raymond was appointed Assistant Minister for Economic Development, Tourism, Sport and Culture with responsibility for sport. Picture: ROB CURRIE.

Last week Deputy Hugh Raymond was appointed Assistant Minister for Economic Development, Tourism, Sport and Culture with responsibility for sport after Steve Pallett resigned from the role so that he could vote against the Chief Minister in the recent no-confidence vote.

Deputy Raymond, who also chairs the Jersey Sports Council, said getting local clubs competing at home and away was essential to Island sport.

He added: ‘I have nothing to lose and I am going to do everything I can to make sure our clubs get the support they need from the States to help get them up and running to full capacity.’

In addition to government support, Deputy Raymond said sponsorships, grants and memberships were needed to help clubs keep going throughout Covid-19.

‘Keeping afloat and pushing on throughout the pandemic has been tough for many clubs and a lot will be wondering where the money is going to come from.

‘We need to make sure everyone continues to invest in Island sport in any way possible.’

In the immediate future, Deputy Raymond will be tasked with helping to get the Bulls and Reds back up and running after the Covid-19 outbreak in the UK halted play.

‘When rugby and football resume for the Reds and Bulls I will do everything I can to support their off-Island ventures where possible,’ he said.

In addition to competition, Deputy Raymond said that Island sport would not be possible without the hundreds of volunteers who gave their time to support their clubs.

He added: ‘We have to keep people’s interest going in sport and we need to give support to everyone from grass roots to professional, from young to old, from player to official to volunteer.’

As part of Deputy Raymond’s work, he wants to bridge the gap between sport and tourism as he believes the two can have a clear and distinctive relationship.

‘People love to come to the Island and compete in sport. Once the pandemic is over, we want to bring big sporting events back here which, in turn, can support our tourism industry.’

In order to host such events, the Island’s sporting venues need to be of a high quality and Deputy Raymond said using and improving current facilities was something he wanted to give great focus.

‘We have got the grounds and facilities in the Island; we just need to make sure they are used to the best of their ability.’

Deputy Raymond will be meeting St Clement Deputy Lindsay Ash in the near future to discuss plans on how to improve facilities in the east of the Island.

In particular, there will be a focus on how to improve FB Fields after a covenant of surrounding neighbours declined an application for five-a-side pitches to be built on the old netball courts.

Commenting on the application, deputy Raymond said: ‘I cannot believe the pitches got turned down, it is exactly what the Island needs. As a former head of the honorary police I would much rather see kids making noise on a football pitch then getting into trouble and making noise through anti-social behaviour.’

‘The issue surrounding FB is one I plan to look at in detail as well as the issue surrounding the skate park which is supposed to be getting built in the west of the Island.’

Deputy Raymond made it clear that he wants to support all sports regardless of their minority or majority and said he will do everything in his power to give them what they deserve.

‘I have nothing to lose. Sport is essential on our Island and I want to give it the voice it deserves.’

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