The Bottom, Saba- On Friday afternoon, Commissioner Rolando Wilson, together with Will Johnson and Dave Levenstone of the Man-O-War Ground Foundation and sports coordinators Joelyn Robinson and Lauren Risley, switched on the lights at the Johan Cruyff Court.
It was a special moment, not only because now people can practice sports in the evening hours, but because it did take a while for the light masts project to be completed.
When the Johan Cruyff Court was constructed more than 10 years ago, there was insufficient funding for light masts. This meant that many sports activities were shortened because of the lack of visibility after the sun had gone down. During his visit to Saba in June 2018, Commissioner Wilson took State Secretary of Public Health, Welfare and Sport Paul Blokhuis to the field. “I explained to him that Saba’s Johan Cruyff Court too needed lights and should not be seen as different from the rest of the world because there is a lot of great talent on the island. He understood the need for the lights and we presented a project file to him.”
With the assistance of State Secretary Blokhuis and the Johan Cruyff Foundation, and a donation for the LED floodlights by Signify, formerly Philips Lighting, the lights were arranged. However, the right poles were lacking. The poles needed to be hurricane proof, and arranging them took some time. Then came the COVID-19 pandemic which caused further delay. Early February, the electrical works on the light masts were completed. Some more upgrading still has to take place to completely level the court. Commissioner Wilson said this would be done in a couple of months. “I was so pleased to see the lights go on. This will make it possible to play football and baseball in the evening hours.”
Will Johnson of the Man-O-War Ground Foundation elaborated on the history of what is now called the Johan Cruyff Court. It started with Lynne Johnson, Will’s wife, arranging soccer lessons for the young boys around 1999 on an open, cleared spot in Booby Hill.
When the rental agreement in Booby Hill ended, then Commissioner Will Johnson spoke to then Minister Leo Chance about buying the piece of land, locally known as the Man-O-War Ground to create a new sports field.
The Man-O-War Ground Foundation was created to collect funds to buy the property, with Will Johnson and Dave Levenstone as board members. With the support of donors and the Johan Cruyff Foundation, the land was purchased and the field constructed.
“We are happy that many organizations and young people are making use of this field” said Johnson, who also thanked the Dutch Government for their assistance.
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