With the sports centre doubling up as the Island’s main vaccination centre, and with plans to begin redeveloping and repurposing the site soon, Fort Regent is quickly removing sports from its venue.
The issue was compounded by a recent decision to deny planning permission to expand the Oakfield Sports Centre, where many sports had been earmarked for rehousing, leaving a lot of clubs in limbo.
‘It’s disappointing [the indoor cricket programme] is not going to be available this year but we are also concerned about the long-term future for indoor cricket because the Oakfield decision… potentially compromises our 2022-23 winter season as well, so obviously we are waiting to see what future developments are on that, but, yes, it’s disappointing for us as Jersey cricket,’ said John Harris, chairman of the Indoor Cricket League.
Harris is concerned about the future for all indoor sports as ‘there is a lot of demand for indoor facilities from lots and lots of different sports’ and so the Oakfield decision was clearly very damaging for all those associated with indoor sports, particularly as Fort Regent is looking to remove sports from its venue.
In regards to the immediate future of Fort Regent, Deputy Hugh Raymond, the assistant minister for Economic Development, Tourism, Sport and Culture, said he did not know about the decision the Jersey Cricket Board had made.
He was adamant that no one on the board had asked if they could use Fort Regent and, if they had, they would have been firmly rejected.
‘Fort Regent is being used for Covid inoculations… which we foresee going through at least until Easter.
‘We are fully aware that the board ran an indoor cricket league. We would like to think they could start up indoor cricket but, as we sit at the moment, Fort Regent is not usable purely because of the Covid inoculations.’
Harris agrees that this year’s indoor cricket programme was ‘always going to be struggling given that Fort Regent is, A, being used for inoculations and, B, they are looking to take all sports out of Fort Regent as well’.
Long term, the government is looking towards its ‘inspiring active places’ strategy with a mission to redevelop or replace Jersey’s existing sports facilities.
However, there are many frustrated that indoor sport is suffering in the short term, especially following 18 months of Covid-related lockdown restrictions. But despite the ‘reluctant’ decision the Indoor Cricket League made this week, Harris is optimistic. ‘This is only a temporary situation… We are looking at other alternatives and trying to suit what might be possible for 2022-23 onwards… It’s not easy for anybody but what I can say is that we are doing everything we can to secure the future of indoor cricket.’