There was a time in Cape Verde when you could go to any of the soccer fields and play soccer. The soccer fields were always open to the public and so long as there was no game or tournament being held you could play.
However, that has changed. Those same soccer fields still exist, with one exception-they are no longer dirt soccer fields. They are now, overall, beautiful synthetic soccer fields (artificial turf). Keep in mind, it’s not the high quality synthetic grass you find in professional environments in the financially rich world, but it’s welcomed in Cape Verde.
Synthetic grass is most often used for sports that are normally played on grass. In this case, soccer. The primary use of synthetic grass it maintenance. Synthetic grass can withstand heavy use and requires no irrigation or trimming. The no irrigation works perfect for Cape Verde where rain is almost non existing throughout most of the year. Not to mention that water is overwhelmingly expensive, period!
A DREAM COME TRUE?
Beautiful synthetic grass. A dream come true for any kid from any island in Cape Verde or for any professional soccer player in Cape Verde, right?
Long gone are the days that going to the soccer field was the equivalent of a dirt bath. A game, however long or short, was a dirt storm.
Incredible progress, correct? You’d want to say so, but the synthetic grass fields may have caused more setbacks than advances. How you ask? Let’s talk about it.
FOR THE PUBLIC…HOWEVER, CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC?
For one, the fields are generally secured with a guard whose partial duty is to make sure that no one plays on the fields. That is, no one who has not gone to the Mayor’s Office to receive written permission to play on the fields.
Absurd, right? Imagine in the country you live in if every time you wanted to use the public soccer field, on any public field for that matter, you had to go and get written permission from a department at the Mayor’s Office.
Just the thought of driving there, or catching public transportation, the wait, and then perhaps to hear no because it may already be booked, would demotivate you from going.
Now imagine that same scenario in Cape Verde where for some people getting to the Mayor’s office may include long walks in the scorching sun, their and back, in long pants, because you can’t get in the Mayor’s Office in shorts.
And what if you randomly decide that you want to go and play soccer, but then you look at the time and notice that it’s past 4pm. Well, you’ll have to wait until the next day because the Mayor’s Office closes at 4.
UNDERDEVELOPMENT OF SOCCER PLAYERS
Cape Verdean politics and politicians often stress the importance of developing soccer players in Cape Verde to a capacity that meats international standards. That is, to have players that can compete at a global level, as we see quite a handful of Cape Verdean soccer players doing so all over the soccer playing world, including Europe.
However, it’s extremely hypocritical on their part. How can you develop world caliber soccer players when you don’t permit them to play soccer on soccer fields that were built to assist them in developing their talent? You may as well not have the soccer fields then.
Think about it. What would it sound like to your ears if your nation said, for example, we want to have great basketball players, but there are no basketball courts. It’s the same rhetoric here.
FROM DIRT FIELDS TO SYNTHETIC FIELDS TO COBBLE STONE STREETS
Given the restrictions on the synthetic soccer fields, imposed by the Mayor’s Office, many youth find themselves playing soccer on many the cobble stone streets – they have no where else to play.
This also becomes very dangerous because while they play on these streets they have to be mindful of oncoming traffic.
This is completely absurd given that there are beautiful, like new synthetic soccer fields available that they can play in joyously and free from danger.
BRING THE DIRT FIELDS BACK?
The days of freely and easily having access to soccer fields are gone, as the dirt soccer fields are gone.
Therefore one asks, should the dirt fields be brought back? The answer is an adamant no.
What is necessary is that the Mayor’s Office of the islands in Cape Verde where this practice of restricting athletes, professional, amateur and aspiring, from freely having access to these fields needs to be abolished.
When the fields were dirt fields you never ever heard from the Mayor’s Office. As a matter of fact, they didn’t want to talk about the dirt fields because it would be costly to make them synthetic grass fields.
However, it eventually became political to have synthetic grass fields and all Cape Verdean politicians hoped on board. Which was good, but now they need to hop off. The people’s only request from them is to keep up with maintenance and and security against vandalization, not to keep Cape Verdeans from using the fields.
Yes, you can, and should have a security person on the premise, but no to hinder or keep the people from playing, but simply to ensure that they are not vandalizing the premise and are keeping with the rules of behavior while using the premise.
This is not the case in every synthetic grass field in every municipality of Cape Verde, but by far it is the case in most.
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