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MEMBER of Parliament for East Central St Catherine and minister with responsibility for Sports, Natalie Neita Headley plans to determine whether or not dormitory facilities can be added to the underutilised Sligoville mini stadium in her constituency.

The facility was completed in 2006 as a gift from the government of China.

Despite harsh criticisms, then Member of Parliament for the constituency KD Knight, who was instrumental in deciding where the mini stadium should be built, proceeded with plans to construct the facility on state owned lands in the sleepy Sligoville community.

Knight tried to fend off criticisms from sceptics who predicted that the stadium would become a 'white elephant', meaning something that is rarely used.

Nearly six years later, the stadium, though used by residents of the community for various sporting and entertainment events, remains underutilised.

The stadium has a cricket field, a separate football field with running track, as well as basketball, netball and volleyball courts, all with seating facilities. A police station and post office are also located there.

Neita Headley rejected the claim that the facility is a 'white elehant' and pointed to her involvement in efforts to get sporting associations to utilise it.

While achieving some success, she said that the absence of sleeping facilities is preventing major sporting associations, such as the Jamaica Football Association and the Jamaica Netball Association from using the venue as a training facility.

"Its not incorporated into any structured programme. I use it six months out of the year for a sports programme that we run in the constituency between netball, football and cricket, but it could be far more utilised and I believe it's one of those that will have to be placed under the same structures as the Trelawny multi purpose stadium and be given some wider usage.

"I have a glorious opportunity now to ensure that that beautiful stadium is utilised. If we can put dormitories in that stadium it would be a perfect training facility. I am certainly looking to see through which method it could be done," she said.

The Member of Parliament also said that the absence of the dormitories has also impacted on efforts by the University of Technology (UTech) to use the stadium as a venue for its sports programmes.

Meanwhile, Neita Headley believes that other factors which impact on the suitability of the mini stadium were being addressed. These include the state of the roads leading to Sligoville as well as the chronic shortage of water during certain periods.

Regarding the roads, Neita Headley told the Sunday Observer that she has informed members of her administration that the repairs to the Sligoville road should be a priority. The Member of Parliament lobbied unsuccessfully over the past two years to get the Bruce Golding Jamaica Labour Party administration to effect repairs to the roadway which sometimes serves as an alternative route to the Bog Walk Gorge whenever the Rio Cobre river is in spate.

Despite numerous media appearances and roadblocks erected by residents and taxi operators the roads leading to Sligoville from Spanish Town, Kingston or Bog Walk remain in poor condition.

The second term parliamentarian is also reporting that the stadium itself, as well as residents of Sligoville, should shortly begin to benefit from an improved water supply.

"The pumps that are currently there need repair and the Chinese have now signed a contract with us to put in eight new pumps and to upgrade the water supply for Sligoville," she said.

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