in this Section
the Governor's Speeches
The Raoul Illidge Sports Complex, Serving To Inspire Athletes
Address by His Excellency Governor Eugene B. Holiday Delivered on the Occasion of the Official Delivery and Re-Opening of the Raoul Illidge Sports Complex
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is a pleasure for me to address you this afternoon to mark the official Delivery and Re-Opening of the Raoul Illidge Sports Complex. Pleased, because sport means a lot to me personally, pleased because I have played ball in this area as boy and pleased because this facility serves to build and inspire our athletes.
Looking at this facility I am happy to say that we have come a long way. Namely as a young boy growing up together with my peers in Cul-De-Sac, sporting facilities were scarce. In fact I can still remember and at times we still speak fondly of when together with my brothers and neighborhood friends we gathered in the “Pasture” and chopped down some trees to make it possible to play “bush league” baseball. Our desire to play ball grew and grew and we would walk between the Pasture, the ball field in Mary’s Fancy, the Fresh Pond when it was dry and here in Cay Hill to play baseball. And competition between Cay Hill and Cul-De-Sac was intense as we played for bragging rights and many of those games were in this area. Talking about those early days almost forty years ago I also recall the many football, soft ball and track and field events that were held in this area. As a result this location has a special meaning for me, given that as a young boy I grew up in the 1970s playing and watching sports here when it was merely an open area.
By the end of the 1970s the winds of official change for the area - in keeping with what the people had long envisioned - started blowing stronger. That is when the government of the Netherlands Antilles bought this and the surrounding areas with development cooperation funds and designated the area for sports, health care and educational development. The island government, at the time looking for a location to house a modern sports complex, as a result decided to develop and co-finance this sports complex. Much has already been said and it therefore suffices to say that this facility was officially opened in 1987, thanks to the contributions of many and in particular to the invaluable input, efforts and work of Mr. Raoul Illidge whose name this facility proudly carries. Since it’s opening the Raoul Illidge Sports complex has carried on the tradition of the area as a breathing ground for many young and talented athletes ranging from track and field, swimming, football, basketball and tennis and not to forget those who use the facility for a brisk walk and to jog to stay in shape.
Today some 27 years since its official opening we stand here for the official delivery and reopening of the Raoul Illidge Sports Complex; and in doing so we join in carrying on the long sports tradition of this area and the people of Sint Maarten. We do so through the delivery of a truly necessary and quality upgrade of the soccer pitch and the track of this sports complex. We do so with the many persons in mind who use and who will use this facility in the future. And as we do so it is my hope that this upgrade will serve, to inspire our athletes to continue to strive to be their best and to compete at the highest international level, resulting in the not too distant future in Sint Maarten gold medalists at the CARIFTA Games, the Olympic Games and the World Championships.
I say that because today’s ceremony is and must be more than about the delivery and reopening of the Raoul Illidge Sports Complex. It should also be about inspiring, developing and producing international champions as the next step in our aspirations. To realize that aspiration we can draw a number of lessons from the history of the realization and reopening of this facility.
I shall therefor leave you with the following three lessons from the history of this area and the Raoul Illidge Sports Complex:
a) The first is that if we aspire and dream – as the people who started using this area for sports did many years ago – we can achieve our objectives;
b) The second is that if we plan – as was done by designating or zoning this area for sports, health care and educational development – our people will be secured of adequate facilities necessary for sustainable and structured development;
c) And the third is that to be the best – we must continuously upgrade our facilities and ourselves.
In closing, it is my hope that this facility will continue to serve as an inspiration for our athletes and source of recreation for its many users and that the lessons from its development will function as an example for the further development of our country. As a result I wish to thank all who made the delivery and re-opening of the Raoul Illidge Sports Complex possible and to congratulate the Sint Maarten Sports Federation, the government and the minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Affairs Mrs. Patricia Lourens-Philip with the completion of this important project for the building of our athletes and for the many other recreational users.
God bless this facility and
God bless Sint Maarten.