Cuba’s National Sports Body Blames the Ministry of Education for the Deterioration of Sports in Cuba
More than half of Cuba’s sports areas are not considered suitable to offer services after being evaluated as bad or average by the National Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation (INDER), according to the official press on Wednesday. The agency admits its responsibility for the deterioration but points to another culprit, the Ministry of Education, which has neglected the sports facilities of the schools on the Island.
A photo report published in the official Tribuna de La Habana gives an account of the seriousness of the situation in the José Martí sports park, located in the vicinity of the Malecón, in El Vedado. As for the schools in the capital, for which the report does not include images, the space dedicated to physical education is limited to a yard with rusted basketball courts.
Ariel Darias, provincial director of Sport, told the media that the schools are under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education, so, he believes, that institution must be responsible for their maintenance. “Sometimes the teaching classrooms are repaired but not the physical education classrooms. That must take a different direction (…). The idea is that the schools next to the sports facilities be repaired,” the official said.
The destruction, according to the official press, is widespread. In Martí Park, the stands are the most dilapidated area. With part of the structure fallen down, several scaffoldings attempt to shore up the imminent collapse of the “petals” that make up the roof. The seats, still with traces of blue paint, have already lost their staggered shape.
Despite the disaster, “the Martí,” as it is popularly known, is still one of the main areas used by nearby residents to exercise. On its irregular and grassy track, it is common to see single people or groups of friends running, warming up their muscles and squatting. The custodians cannot prevent people from entering because the outer fence barely exists in long sections.
The soccer and basketball courts are described by the media as “unused and in sharp deterioration, and the grass on the athletics track continues to grow.” As for the pool, empty and with traces of stagnant water, it is even more deteriorated than seven years ago, when 14ymedio published a photo gallery of the facilities. Then, the walls already warned visitors: “Don’t pass. Collapse.”
The faded buildings contrast with the horizon of shiny buildings. At the bottom of the park stand the two towers of the Grand Aston hotel, located on 1st and D, in El Vedado, which has a luxurious gym for its customers and a refreshing pool with a sea view.
In an effort to mitigate their statements to the official press, the authorities assured that many sports complexes are being restored. Martí Park itself is being repaired by a mipyme [private business] – whose name is not revealed – and the School of Sports Initiation (EIDE) has managed to recover the fencing gym and the soccer, hockey and baseball fields. According to its managers, it will soon also recover the judo area.
Last July, the official newspaper ¡Ahora! denounced the conditions in which the Olympic swimming pool of Gibara, in Holguín, is located, which has become a “macro garbage dump.” The provincial authorities, such as those of Havana, assure that the responsibility for the state of the facilities, in which they once trained the national water polo team and numerous swimmers, is held by someone else: the provincial Tourism company.
Translated by Regina Anavy